Chinese New Year Celebrations 2014, San Francisco, California.
Celebrations around the World: Chinese New Year
Legends spoke of the wild beast Nien (which also is the word for “year”) that appeared at the end of each year, attacking and killing villagers. Loud noises and bright lights were used to scare the beast away, and the Chinese New Year celebrations were born. Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration and each day, many families rotate celebrations between homes of their relatives. The festivities are day-long and people eat special food such as rice, walnuts, different colored dry fruit, raisins, sweet red bean paste, Chicken, duck, fish and pork dishes.
Aside from New Year’s Eve, there are many important days of the 15-day New Year Festival, as for example, JIE CAI CENG, which celebrates the Welcoming of the Gods of Wealth and Prosperity. On the 5th day of New Year’s, it is believed that the gods of prosperity come down from the heavens. Businesses will often participate in setting off firecrackers as they believe it will bring them prosperity and good fortune for their business.
The 15th day of the New Year is known as The Festival of Lanterns and marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. All types of lanterns are lit throughout the streets and often poems and riddles are often written for entertainment. The rabbit lantern stems from a Chinese myth or fairytale about a female goddess named “Chang E” who jumped onto the moon. So she wouldn’t travel alone, she brought a rabbit with her to keep her company. It is said that if your heart is pure enough, you can see the goddess Chang E and her rabbit on the moon on this day.
Red envelopes filled with money are typically only given to children or unmarried adults with no job. The color red denotes good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance in the Chinese Culture and is often worn or used for decoration in other celebrations. As always the Dragon is present in many Chinese cultural celebrations as the Chinese people often think of themselves as descendants of the mythical creature. On the fifth day of the New Year when many people have to start going back to work, they will also have the Dancing Dragons perform in the front of the office building. On the 15th day of the New Year (Yuan Xiao Jie), they will also have a lot of dancing dragon performances. The dragon represents prosperity, good luck and good fortune.