Chinese New Year is just around the corner! Have you bought your new clothes yet? Cleaned the whole house? Got all your cookies and snacks and auspicious foods? Will you be hosting the reunion dinner or are you going to a relatives house?
Like any other celebration dating back centuries, Chinese New Year comes with its own sets of traditions and practices. Have you ever wondered why we do the things we do? Here are 10 fun facts about Chinese New Year that may help you gain deeper understanding!
- Each year is assigned to one of 12 Zodiac signs with an associated animal. So 2016 which is the Year of the Monkey, is coming to an end with the year of the Rooster beginning in 2017. Chinese believe each sign has its own characteristics, which can be seen in people born under the sign. Which sign are you?
- A typical Chinese New Year celebration lasts 15 days.
- It is considered good luck to thoroughly spring-clean the house to get rid of old energies and bad luck, getting ready to usher in fresh, better luck for the year ahead.
- Once the house is clean, the decorations can go up! This can be in the form of couplets, lanterns, flowers, door gods and so on. Typically they are in the lucky colour red.
- Some plants are considered auspicious like orange and mandarin trees, lucky bamboos, cherry blossoms and pussy willows. This year being the year of the Rooster, the cockscomb plant is very popular.
- Firecrackers are let off to celebrate the New Year and also to scare away monsters. Legend has it that the people of old were terrorized by a dragon called Nian, who could only be frightened off by loud noise and the colour red.
- No cutting of any kind is permitted during the first days of Chinese New Year. So hair and nails must be cut in advance and food must be prepared in advance to avoid “cutting off” the luck that is flowing in.
- Ang paos or red packets are greatly anticipated by the young ones and are typically given by adults and elderly. They are believed to suppress evil from children, keep them healthy and give them a long life.
- To get the ang paos, you might hear young children saying “Gong Xi Fa Cai, Ang Pao Na Lai!” which means “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!” People exchange this auspicious phrase and many more to wish each other luck during the 15 days of Chinese New Year.
- The celebration typically ends with a Lantern Festival with lanterns, oranges and more feasting. In Malaysia, we celebrate Chap Goh Mei, where single young girls toss mandarins into rivers or seas with their numbers written on them, hoping to find a suitable match!
Happy Chinese New Year, we hope you have a wonderful one with your friends and family!