Chinese New Year – Year of the Horse 2014
Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is known as "Spring Festival", the literal translation of the Chinese name Chūn Jié (春節).
The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. Chinese New Year's Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as Chú Xī (除夕) or "Eve of the Passing Year." This year Chinese New Year begins January 23 and continues until February 6. Originating during the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC), Spring Festival, which celebrates family reunion, is full of rich and colorful activities, and new hopes with the advent of spring and flowers blossoming. People from different regions and different ethnic groups celebrate it in their unique ways.
The Origin of Spring Festival
The Customs of Spring Festival
From the first day of the lunar year, people visit relatives and friends and greet each other, which is an important custom for the Spring Festival. The greetings are “May you succeed in everything”, “May everything be smooth as your wish”, “Business Flourishes”,” Wishing You Prosperity”, “Peace All Year Round”, “Promoting To a Higher Position ”.
“Happiness” Upside Down
The Jade Emperor learned of this and ordered Generals Shen Tu and Yu Lei to guard the arched door and capture the devil. Shen Tu and Yu Lei came to the Du Shou Mountain, and waited for the devil nearby the arched door. The devil walked out from the arched door as usual. Shen Tu and Yu Lei arrested the devil with magic, and sent him to the Jade Emperor. From then on, the devil couldn’t hurt people again.
Since then, when Spring Festival comes, people draw the two generals Shen Tu and Yu Lei on peach wood and hang them on the doors to keep evils away. That is the origin of the Door-God.
It is said that in ancient times there was a demon called “evil spirit”. He loved to touch the heads of children on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Children touched by him were afraid to cry; then they developed a headache, followed by a fever, and eventually turned into fools. There was a couple who looked upon their young son as their treasured one. They put eight coins in a red wrap, and placed it below the child’s pillow casually on New Year’s Eve. When the “evil spirit” was about to touch the child’s head, the eight coins below the boy’s pillow sent out bright light which scared the “evil spirit” away. In fact, the eight coins were actually the eight immortals who had secretly assumed the shape of coins to protect the children. Gradually, giving “Lucky Money” to children became a custom on the Spring Festival.
Dragon and Lion Dance
The Origin of the Chinese Zodiac
The rat was surprised to see that the ox had also risen very early. The ox walked faster than the rat. The rat didn’t want the ox to be the first one, so he said to the ox, “Friend, you must be very tired! Shall I sing a song for you to help you relax?”
“Of course” the ox said.
“But I’m too small, you may not hear me. Can I ride on your neck and sing for you?” the rat said. The ox agreed his proposition. When they arrived at their destination, no one else had yet arrived. The ox thought that he was the first one, but the rat jumped down off the ox and ran ahead of him. So the rat became the first of the 12 animals.
The Personality of Horse People
Provided by: the Confucius Institute at Seneca College