CHINESE NEW YEAR 5th February 2019
© Written by Daniel Hanna 2019
Chinese New Year 2019
Chinese New Year 2019 will be the year of the Yin Earth Pig (Ji Hai) and begins on the 5th February 2019 with this date being in line with the Lunar Calendar. This period is a time for grand celebrations and is increasingly enjoyed by more and more people around the globe. The New Year is a significant period for everyone to spend time with family and friends and honour those that are with us and those who are no longer with us. Gratitude and blessings feature highly during this period along with time to reflect on the past, acknowledge any mistakes and then prepare and take action to start afresh in the New Year.
The lunar and solar dates for Chinese New Year fall on different days. In 2019 the solar (hsai) date will be 4th February with the lunar (yueh) date, which is calculated to be on the second new moon after the winter solstice, will be the 5th February. The solar New Year’s Day will herald the beginning of spring and typically falls on the 4th or 5th of February, and this is the day when everyone will place their Feng Shui cures and enhancers. Lunar Chinese New Year is when the festivities begin with all ethnic Chinese joining in the celebrations.
You may have come across a few websites stating that 2019 is the 4717th Chinese New Year; if you can’t find the reason for this, here’s an explanation for you:
Spring 2697 B.C. was the Yellow King’s appointment, however, the winter solstice day has been used as the first day of the year. So, this makes the first winter solstice taking place on around 23rd December 2698 B.C. However, January 1st, which heralds the western New Year, meant nothing to the Yellow King so if we count the additional eight days in 2698 B.C. then the year 2019 would be the 4717th Chinese New Year.
Preparing for Chinese New Year 2019
The weeks leading up to New Year’s Day are an integral part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Everyone must be well prepared and organised with outstanding matters cleared up so that they enter the New Year with a clean slate and with proper standards set which, hopefully, will be maintained throughout the year. Houses must be thoroughly cleaned and debts must be called in or repaid before the New Year. If you’ve lent your belongings out to family or friends then it’s the perfect time to request them returned, otherwise, this could result in you continuing to loan out to others throughout the year. The premise is to start the New Year as you intend to go on.
One of the primary activities in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year is the housecleaning. The cleaning needs to be thorough with everything wiped, dusted and dirt and cobwebs swept away; this includes all furniture, ornaments, walls, ceilings, corners, bathrooms and the exterior of the home. Thrown away are any items that are uncleanable, or broken. The cleaning process refreshes the house and welcomes new, fresh and auspicious Qi to enter. One crucial factor is that post cleaning, all equipment such as dusters, dustpans, vacuum cleaners, mops, etc., must be packed away and out of sight. We, in the Hanna household, celebrate both western and eastern New Year, so we undertake the cleaning process twice. However, with the Chinese New Year not too far from the western, it’s not such an arduous task.
Placing your 2019 Cures and Enhancers
The ideal time to place your protective talismans is on the 4th February 2019 which is the date on the solar calendar. The talismans should be all set up by the Chinese New Year date of 5th February. The talismans, or couplets, are used to expel evil throughout the home and seen as a necessity in Chinese culture along with many western cultures around the world. Emblems are also displayed to summon good fortune during the year. These emblems are printed on red paper or with a red background with the colour red being a life-giving colour associated with summer, the south and the Vermilion Bird. The Vermilion Bird is similar to a Phoenix and represents the fire element. Interestingly enough the Phoenix is symbolic of rebirth in the west. Click this link to read more about talismans and how they cure or enhance an area.
In Chinese culture red also represents good fortune, fame, and riches. However, caution should be applied when using the colour red inside your home. We’ve seen many homes and businesses over-using the colour thinking it’ll bring them good luck. But like many things, although it’s a powerful and potent colour, and can produce very pleasing results if used correctly, if misused it can bring unnecessary problems.
Before diving into a colour change in your home or office we advice to either learn yourself about correct colour usage and their associated elements or, better still, ask for advice from a Feng Shui consultant.
Fresh, luscious flowers in full bloom should fill your home and business in preparation for the New Year. The plants represent rebirth and growth and flowers such as pussy willow, azalea, peony, water lily or narcissus will symbolise wealth and prominent position within your business or career. Bamboo and plum blossoms are also favoured as these plants symbolise endurance, loyalty, and longevity. Considered very lucky and auspicious is a flower blooming on New Year’s Day and, if this occurs, occupants can expect to enjoy a year full of prosperity and good luck. It’s believed that having no flowers could result in a lack of fruit in the latter part of the year, so make sure you fill your home with an array of bright, beautiful blooms. They’ll not only make your home look bright and cheerful, but you’ll feel assured of a prosperous and lucky 2019.
Oranges and tangerines, are very symbolic and essential to have displayed during Chinese New Year. These fruits embody happiness and joy, and as the colour represents gold they signify gold ingots and are often given as gifts to family and friends along with an Ang Pow, which is a red envelope containing money.
Honouring the Kitchen God
Performed about one week before Chinese New Year is a sacred ceremony to honour Heaven (Tien Shen) and Earth (Ti Tu) as well to honour deities of the household and their family ancestors. Kitchen God, or ‘stove god’ is probably the most well-known deity who resides above the stove. Kitchen God’s role is to note the communication and synergy of family members throughout the year and will then report to the Jade Emperor in Heaven during the week before the New Year celebrations. The family, hoping for an excellent report, will attempt to appease the Kitchen God by making him happy with their offerings. Click this link to read more about the origins of the Kitchen God.
The Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner
The reunion dinner is a very traditional event and heralds the beginning of the Chinese New Year. All family members, young and old, join together to enjoy a very elaborate banquet which signifies family unity and harmony. The family home is wherever the elders live, and those who live away will endeavour to travel home for this special occasion. Wives will spend their reunion dinner in the husband’s family home with his relations.
The dinner is typically a very colourful and lively event with a vast array of appetising and tempting dishes beautifully laid out on a table. Each delectable dish will have an auspicious name symbolising a significant meaning, and all the household lights will be left on as this is believed to ward off evil spirits. Before enjoying the feast, everyone will first gather at the altar for prayers, offerings, and tributes to deities and ancestors. It’s a significant event where all family members unite while remembering and honouring those members who are no longer with them.
As well as the name of the dishes being of importance they also have significant superstitious interpretations. For example; Gingko nuts represent gold ingots and are believed to improve and increase fertility. Black moss seaweed will represent prosperity as does a whole chicken. Dried bean cured will represent good luck, happiness, and joy with lotus seed symbolising fertility.
A traditional dish also featured will be a sweet, steamed glutinous rice pudding called Nian Gao, and this recipe is believed to promote growth and abundance. Also on the menu will be Bamboo shoots which when translated into Chinese, will sound similar to “hoping that all turns out for the best.” Dumplings are also a must for the table as they signify good fortune. A whole fish, complete with head and tail, will grace the table and symbolise togetherness throughout the year.
The reunion dinner is a bustling, busy affair and you’ll typically find the women congregating in the kitchen preparing the food while the men sit back, relax and either watch TV or play Mah-jong. Mah-jong, a traditional Chinese Game, is enjoyed by both sexes and favoured especially by gamblers. Large sums of money can change hands during a game, and being successful is mostly dependant on having an excellent memory and being able to focus. A player needs to be observant to the displayed tiles to work out what tiles remain, and there’s also a certain amount of responsibility as a loss to you could also include a monetary loss to other game players.
Following the reunion dinner, the children prepare for bed wearing their new pyjamas, and the promise of a visit from the Wealth God, Tsai Shen Yeh (Chai Shen Yeh.) With the same excitement that western children experience on Christmas Eve, the children try hard to fall asleep as quickly as possible. Once they’ve dozed off the children parents will slip a red envelope with money (Ang Pow) under their pillow which will tell the children that the Wealth God has visited. Uncles and Aunts also may pop an Ang Pow beneath the pillow, and the amount in the envelope is relative to the age of the child and also the relationship between them both. Typically, older children can look forward to a more substantial amount than their younger siblings.
As the clock ticks past midnight, the deafening sound of firecrackers, believed to scare away evil spirits, will fill the air. The use of firecrackers is also to acknowledge the letting go of the previous years Qi (energy) and welcome the fresh Qi of the new year. In countries like the UK, where firecrackers require council permission, the loud drums at the Dragon Dance Ceremony will serve the purpose just as well. The Dragon Dance is a fabulous, vibrant and noisy event with old and young enjoying immensely. The Dragon is manipulated by performers holding poles which they raise and lower to create movement. It’s also traditional for one performer to hold a Pearl of Wisdom on a pole which symbolises a search for wisdom and knowledge and the dragon will hypnotically follow the pearl as the drums beat loudly.
Chinese New Year’s Day
Chinese New Year’s Day commences with the exchange of good wishes amongst the family. Everyone will be decked out in their most exceptional clothes and Ang Pow’s, also known as Hung-Bao, are handed out to younger family members and unmarried adults. These red envelopes contain gifts of money, and the amounts must be in even numbers as these are considered auspicious. However, it’s acceptable to gift a single Chinese i-ching coin. Follow this link to read more about red envelopes and their use during Chinese New Year.
As the day progresses, there will be many visits to other family members. Traditionally, the older family members will rest at home expecting and wait for the younger relatives to visit to exchange good wishes. These visits are very exciting for the children as each time they receive a “Kung Xee Fa Chai,” which means, “Congratulations and may you be prosperous,” they’ll be handed an Ang Pow.
Day two of the Chinese New Year starts with a very early morning breakfast which consists of unique and symbolic dishes. The day is called ‘Kai Nien’ which translates to ‘Year Beginning,’ and one of the leading dishes are plates of Longevity Noodles. These noodles are longer than the average noodle and are believed to promote longevity. It’s important that the noodles remain long and avoid cutting or breaking the noodles as this is thought to cut short your life. The custom is also for everyone to stand, raise their arms as high as possible and toss the noodles high into the air using their chopsticks. A fun and very messy affair.
Chinese tea features quite heavily during the New Year and this would be the traditional beverage. Alcohol wouldn’t be consumed other than maybe a glass of rice wine the dinner. Older generations still adhere to this policy as they view New Year’s like a family event and not an appropriate time to drink copious amounts of alcohol. However, in recent years younger generations will enjoy an alcoholic drink, or two, and one of their favourite alcoholic drinks is Baijiu which is a clear and strong drink made from rice, sorghum and other grains. Cocktails, all with symbolic meanings are also becoming popular over the New Year period.
The Chinese throw their heart and soul into the New Year festivities with an abundance of eating, drinking and playing games with family and friends. Just about everything they eat and do during this period has a significant meaning, and no-one holds back on participating in the feasting and festivities. However, after two days most are starting to feel the effects, and the need for rest becomes overwhelming. So, on day three of the New Year, everything starts to slow down. Younger people may venture out to visit friends, and the older generations will enjoy a quiet, restful day. Traditionally, offices and businesses will remain closed.
When to re-open businesses and shops is often calculated with the help of a Feng Shui Practitioner who will select a specific date. If this is the case, the owner will then celebrate the new trading year with a spectacular display of the Lion Dance and firecrackers. This event is noisy and thrilling for both employees and passers-by and, I suspect probably good for business. However, some business owners are comfortable with resuming regular business hours on the fourth day of the New Year.
Festivities continue for another eleven days right through to the full moon of the first lunar month with a celebration marking the closing of the Spring Festival and to symbolise family unity. The ‘Spring Lantern Festival’ (Yuan Xiao Jie) is a beautiful, romantic affair, and some believe this event as the true Chinese Valentine’s day. The Lantern Festival takes place under a full moon on the 15th day of the first lunar month of the year.
On this 15th and last day of the Chinese New Year, old and young will carry their colourful lanterns, and congregate in a nearby public place to admire the full moon and reunite with family. There are still families in China that prepare big Tang Yuan (rice dumplings) to enjoy with their loved ones. The dumplings symbolise family unity, completeness, and good fortune. The Spring Lantern Festival brings the seasonal passage of the New Year to a memorable close.
What can I do before the New Year to achieve good luck?
- Ensure that your house, flat, office or any other building is completely clean from top to bottom to encourage good luck in the coming year. We spend 2-3 days cleaning every single area of our home just before New Year.
- You should open all the windows and doors in every single part of the home as this is said to bring in clean, new good luck for the year.
- Switch on the lights in the home inside and out to attract good luck from outside. It’s believed that if the windows and doors are wide open it will be easy for luck and good fortune to enter. The bright lights and open windows are also used to scare away evil spirits.
- Many will buy a new pair of slippers at New Year; apparently, it is said to stop people gossiping about you. Face and reputation are very important in Chinese culture.
- The Chinese spend a lot of time bathing before New Year and they cover themselves with Pomelo leaves to enhance their health for the year. Pomelo is the largest of citrus trees and they grow as large as a bowling ball and are said to be very healthy to drink and eat.
- The Chinese believe that whatever happens to them on New Year’s Day sets how the year ahead will be for them. So, they avoid arguments, using knives, driving too far and they love to gamble on New Year’s day as they hope to create good luck and wealth.
Some rules and regulations the Chinese stick to on the Chinese New Year Day.
- Because everybody is in a celebratory mood on Chinese New Years; people should avoid arguing or disagreeing with each other.
- Parents should not punish or discipline the children. Otherwise, you will have more arguments in the New Year.
- Women should refrain from using a knife or scissors in the kitchen. The knife denotes anger and danger in the woman’s life and the scissors predict the woman cutting people out of her life. Women do not prepare or cook meals on this day and will eat leftover food from the day before.
- It’s considered bad luck if you smash a plate, bowl, cup or any other similar kitchen crockery; the belief is that this will bring bad luck regarding finances throughout the year. All smashed crockery should be placed in a round container until the next rubbish collection day.
- There is to be no sweeping through the house or throwing out rubbish on New Years Day; this is believed you will be sweeping or throwing away the wealth and luck that resides in your home.
- Do not take a lunchtime nap today as this will encourage laziness throughout the whole year.
- You should not take a bath, shower or wash your hair on Chinese New Years Day as this will wash away all good luck for you personally.
- Refrain from wearing black or white colours when visiting friends on this day as these colours are associated with funerals and death.
- Avoid eating rice or oat porridge for breakfast on New Year’s Day as this is associated with poverty and symbolises the loss of wealth.
- If somebody that you know, or know of, has recently passed away, it’s not advisable to visit a family member’s house that is connected to the recently deceased.
- Do not eat meat for breakfast on this day as many gods that are vegetarians arrive on the Chinese New Year Day festival and this could cause offence.
- When you wake somebody up on this morning, do not use their name as this person will be dependant on you all year long to motivate them.
- Refrain from taking medicine that isn’t essential for your health as this could symbolise weakness and could bring illness to you throughout some point of the year.
- Don’t wash clothes on this day; Chinese New Year Day is the birthday of the god of Water.
- Avoid collecting debts on this day as you will find yourself chasing money for the rest of the year.
- Do not let anybody take anything out of your pockets, purse, handbag or wallet as this symbolises money loss throughout the year.
- Refrain from cutting your hair or nails on this day as it is believed that you will be bringing pain to your relations.
- Do not buy a pair of shoes (slippers are fine) as it is considered very unlucky. “Shoe” translated into Mandarin means evil and when translated into Cantonese means rough.
- Don’t talk about anything negative on this day as you will be manifesting how the rest of your year is to be lived.
- Do not offer anything in fours; when you translate “four” in Chinese it sounds like death.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and would like to wish you all a very happy, successful and lucky new year in 2019. There are many links below related to the Chinese New Year and traditions.
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© Chinese New Year Daniel Hanna 2019