Chinese New Year

lion dance
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Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is the new year in the Lunar calendar and it is also public holidays in Malaysia on day 1 and 2 of this festival. Malaysia is a multi-cultural country and hence Chinese New Year is one of the festivals together with Deepavali, Hari Raya and other festivals embraced and celebrated by Malaysian in different ways.   

chinese new year

(Photo credits to Le Minh) 

Its Origin

This festival is steeped with various stories and myths in China. The mythical beast called “Nian” was the most popular. “Nian” means year in Mandarin. The beast ate livestock and human during the eve of Chinese New Year. The people place lavish food in front of their houses for the beast to eat to prevent it to kill living creatures and destroy the area. Then, a wise man found out that the beast is afraid of red colour and loud noises. The people came out with the idea to hang red lanterns on their windows and doors to scare it away. They also use bamboo to create loud noises. The crackling bamboo was then replaced by firecrackers

The History

It is said that Chinese New Year can be traced back to about 3,500 years ago. It is believed that its origin is from the Shang Dynasty where people pray to gods and ancestors in the beginning or end of each year for individuals’ wishes. In the Zhou Dynasty, ancestor worship became a social practice. The term “year” was first appeared at that time. In the Han Dynasty, the date (first day of the first month) was fixed. The people created loud crackling bamboo by burning it. The festival became more popular. In the Wei and Jin Dynasties, the festival evolved from religious to social event. People started to entertain themselves. The practices of house cleaning, reunion dinner and staying up late on the eve began. From the Tang to the Qing Dynasty, people started to play firecrackers, visiting relatives and eating dumplings during the festival. More shows and performances were then invented, including dragon dance, lion dance, lantern show and temple fair. The people were also buying and making new clothes for the festival.

lion dance

(Photo credits to Vladislav)

In 1912, the China government decided to abolish the festival and Lunar calendar. They adopted the Gregorian calendar instead. In 1949-1950, Chinese New Year was accepted again and was made a nationwide public holiday. It was also renamed to Spring Festival.

The Customs

There are a few dos and don’ts during Chinese New Year. There are no logical reasons behind them but they are traditions worth keeping. You can definitely set off firecrackers and eat dumplings. Cleaning the house must be done before the festival because sweeping out dust during the festival is like cutting out your wealth and fortune. You are not supposed to wash your hair on the first day of Chinese New Year as well as the character hair and prosperous share the same word in Chinese. It is believed that buying books will invite bad luck as the character book and lose have the same pronunciation in Chinese.  

The New Trends 

As the years go by with the advancement of technology, people start to integrate modern practises to Chinese New Year. Many old traditions such as playing firecrackers and lion dance are gradually reduced. Instead, people are more excited about shopping for new clothes and other fashion items online before the festival. The reunion dinner is still a must-do custom where people feast. In China, people are giving virtual red packet via WeChat. Some people like to travel overseas to experience the festive culture in other countries. 

How do you celebrate your Chinese New Year 2021? Share with us!