What is Chinese New Year anyway? When does it start? When does it end? What do people do to celebrate? I’m going to give you some answers! I love the pageantry of Chinese New Year, and one of these days, I’m going to San Francisco’s Chinatown to see their celebrations. I did get a taste in Los Angeles, however, enough to whet my appetite.
Chinese New Year is a spring festival, celebrating the coming of the new year, planting, sowing, and welcoming the fruitfulness of the earth. There is no set date, it is different every year, because it is celebrated on a lunar cycle. It begins on the second New Moon after Winter Solstice which is December 21. It ends on the night of the Full Moon 15 days later. It is a cause for celebrations, offerings to the gods mostly in the form of food, family get togethers, offerings to the ancestors, and even gift giving.
I was fortunate to see not only offerings in the Chua Ba Thien Hau Temple in LA’s Chinatown, but to see people performing rituals to their ancestors and praying. I did not take photographs of such personal actions, but it was fascinating to watch. The most important tradition is the New Year’s Eve meal, when all families reunite. The train stations in China are crazy around this date, so don’t try to travel near New Year’s Eve!
The Chinese Zodiac is very important in Chinese culture. The 12 zodiac signs are animals, and probably harken back to the days of animal worship. The signs also have elements, for instance, I am an Earth Pig, apparently one of the happiest of the zodiac signs. Who knows what great luck I will have this year since it is the Year of the Pig? Don’t know your sign? Find out here!
Are you a Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog, Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Goat, Rooster or Pig? And what is the element of your year of birth? I always enjoy learning about the Zodiac, and cultural traditions. My immediate family is comprised of a Fire Rabbit, Metal Horse, and Fire Monkey. We have some fireworks!
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