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© Fairyland x Boxmaker Inc.

Lunar New Year

In China, and around the world, Lunar New Year is one of the most anticipated and celebrated times of the entire year. The lunar year is kicked off with the first new moon of the year, and ends with the first full moon 15 days later. It represents letting go of the old year and ushering in the new. 

 

Its significance

This tradition was created through centuries that closely link people, the cultivation of the land, and agricultural cycles. For a 1000 years, the majority of the people in China sustained themselves with the tilling of the soil, which is why most celebrations are arranged around major agricultural events such as plowing, sowing seeds, and harvesting. It’s perhaps the one time in a farmer’s year when they can take off from their tireless work and spend it with family and loved ones. 

 

Chinese zodiac

Each new year is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals. For instance, 2021 is the year of the ox. The animals in a cycle are not only used to represent years in parts of Asia, but also believed to influence people’s personalities, career, compatibility, marriage, and fortune. 

 

Preparing for the new year

It’s time to clean house! Get rid of last year’s energy so you can receive the new year’s good fortune. You can do this by washing your windows, sweeping and cleaning your home ritualistically, and/or decorating your place with flowers, lanterns and offerings. This domestic preparation appeases the Kitchen God, aka the God of the Hearth, who was said to make reports to the Jade Emperor in heaven.
 

Spiritually, there are preparations to be done as well. This is a time to create a “clean slate” for the new year. For a business, this might look like paying off or collecting debts, while for the individual, this may be a time of introspective reflection on past disagreements, righting wrongs, or fixing mistakes. 

 

Lunar New Year’s eve is a really big deal

The night before Lunar New Year, families gather, dressed in new clothes, with the house decorated in red, all ready to make offerings to the gods of the house and their ancestors. To start, pieces of red paper are placed over any cracks in the house to discourage any traces of last year’s bad luck to enter the home. Offerings like food and incense are placed on the altar in the home, and members of the family kneel and pay their respects. Children perform a devotion to their elders. Once the rites are completed, the family will sit down for possibly the largest meal of the year, serving delicious foods that each have positively auspicious symbolism based on their appearance or the significance of their names. For example, yu or whole fish is an auspicious dish because its name is homophonous with “surplus” or “abundance.” The same can be said for tangerine or mandarin oranges or ji, which also sound similar to the word for “luck.”

 

What happens on New Year Day itself?

The family assembles to ceremoniously throw open the doors or the gates to allow the new year in and light fireworks to mark the occasion. Over the next few days, families make pilgrimages to temples, make time for visiting family or friends that may live far away,  give gifts, and  children receive hongbao - little red envelopes with coins.  In the days to follow it is common to see street performers, theater troupes and martial artists in choreographed displays. One such demonstration is the Lion Dance which is said to bring in good luck and ward off evil.

 

It’s 15 days long

At the end of this 15-day long celebration, people gather for the Lantern Festival, marking the end of the celebration period. It’s a time for families to reunite after the 15 days and reconnect for the full moon. The use of lanterns dates back to lore that said that you could use it at this time to see the gods, and use its light for safety.  With that in mind, it is customary for each family to have an elaborate lantern, which adds to the gorgeous displays that the Lunar New Year brings forth each and every year.

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© Fairland x Boxmaker Inc.

Lunar New Year

In China, and around the world, Lunar New Year is one of the most anticipated and celebrated times of the entire year. The lunar year is kicked off with the first new moon of the year, and ends with the first full moon 15 days later. It represents letting go of the old year and ushering in the new. 

 

Its significance

This tradition was created through centuries that closely link people, the cultivation of the land, and agricultural cycles. For a 1000 years, the majority of the people in China sustained themselves with the tilling of the soil, which is why most celebrations are arranged around major agricultural events such as plowing, sowing seeds, and harvesting. It’s perhaps the one time in a farmer’s year when they can take off from their tireless work and spend it with family and loved ones. 

 

Chinese zodiac

Each new year is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals. For instance, 2021 is the year of the ox. The animals in a cycle are not only used to represent years in parts of Asia, but also believed to influence people’s personalities, career, compatibility, marriage, and fortune. 

 

Preparing for the new year

It’s time to clean house! Get rid of last year’s energy so you can receive the new year’s good fortune. You can do this by washing your windows, sweeping and cleaning your home ritualistically, and/or decorating your place with flowers, lanterns and offerings. This domestic preparation appeases the Kitchen God, aka the God of the Hearth, who was said to make reports to the Jade Emperor in heaven.
 

Spiritually, there are preparations to be done as well. This is a time to create a “clean slate” for the new year. For a business, this might look like paying off or collecting debts, while for the individual, this may be a time of introspective reflection on past disagreements, righting wrongs, or fixing mistakes. 

 

Lunar New Year’s eve is a really big deal

The night before Lunar New Year, families gather, dressed in new clothes, with the house decorated in red, all ready to make offerings to the gods of the house and their ancestors. To start, pieces of red paper are placed over any cracks in the house to discourage any traces of last year’s bad luck to enter the home. Offerings like food and incense are placed on the altar in the home, and members of the family kneel and pay their respects. Children perform a devotion to their elders. Once the rites are completed, the family will sit down for possibly the largest meal of the year, serving delicious foods that each have positively auspicious symbolism based on their appearance or the significance of their names. For example, yu or whole fish is an auspicious dish because its name is homophonous with “surplus” or “abundance.” The same can be said for tangerine or mandarin oranges or ji, which also sound similar to the word for “luck.”

 

What happens on New Year Day itself?

The family assembles to ceremoniously throw open the doors or the gates to allow the new year in and light fireworks to mark the occasion. Over the next few days, families make pilgrimages to temples, make time for visiting family or friends that may live far away,  give gifts, and  children receive hongbao - little red envelopes with coins.  In the days to follow it is common to see street performers, theater troupes and martial artists in choreographed displays. One such demonstration is the Lion Dance which is said to bring in good luck and ward off evil.

 

It’s 15 days long

At the end of this 15-day long celebration, people gather for the Lantern Festival, marking the end of the celebration period. It’s a time for families to reunite after the 15 days and reconnect for the full moon. The use of lanterns dates back to lore that said that you could use it at this time to see the gods, and use its light for safety.  With that in mind, it is customary for each family to have an elaborate lantern, which adds to the gorgeous displays that the Lunar New Year brings forth each and every year.

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