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Happy New Year - Again?

Posted on 6th January 2014
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Gong Hei Fard Choy - Happy New Year - Again?

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For the Chinese, the New Year, or Spring Festival, is the most revered holiday of the year. It’s a time when family and friends gather together to share lavishly prepared meals and to celebrate the coming New Year. The actual date of the celebrations changes each year as the Chinese calendar is based on a combination of both lunar and solar movements.  These are of different lengths and with a lunar cycle of around 29.5 days the resultant misalignment with the solar cycle is compensated for by adding a month every few years. Overall ‘added’ months occur seven times within a period of nineteen years. To those celebrating Chinese New Year, this is no more confusing than adding day during a leap year is to the West.
Chinese mandarin Hat with tassels - deluxe US260758The celebrations on New Year’s Eve are fundamentally a time for honoring departed ancestors and it is traditional to host a family feast, called Weilu, at which it is believed that the spirits of the departed will attend with the living to welcome the passing of the year.  The feast’s name of Weilu translates to “surrounding the stove”. These family gatherings and feasting continue throughout the holiday period including New Year’s Day.  
Specific foods are incorporated in these celebrations and they are considered important elements for the meal if a prosperous year is to be ensured. Daikon, a white radish is incorporated to ensure a long and healthy life. Red chilies are added as the colour red symbolises good luck to the Chinese. And, rice ensures harmony.
As with all cultures there are several long held beliefs that surround the welcoming of the New Year. Some of these align with similar beliefs held in the West including completing all unfinished business from the previous year before the New Year starts. There is a similar belief, particularly with the Scots, that all outstanding debts should be cleared before the year ends. Again, it is Chinese tradition that all doors and windows are opened to let the spirit of the old year depart and that of the new tear in, which is not too dissimilar to opening doors to welcome the first footers.
Additionally, Chinese homes are completely cleaned and fung shei principle applied to ensure that there is room for good energy and good luck to enter and flow unrestricted throughout the home. It is also traditional to celebrate by the letting off of firecrackers and fireworks as a welcome to the New Year – a practice followed in many cultures today.
For the celebrations, a Chinese home would be decorated with vases of pretty flowers, fruits, sweets and candies.  Each of these has a special significance, and if you are a guest to a traditional Chinese family celebration it would be expected that you bring tangerines or oranges, better if they have the leaves still attached as this will assure that the bond of friendship will remain secure during the coming year.
3D Chinese Greeting Lampion - 58cm
Other home decorations will typically be red in colour as this is the colour of good luck and they would normally be wall hangings including good wishes for the New Year. The colour red is a happy colour and is so well believed that it will bring good fortune that it is used extensively in decoration and clothing.
If you are planning a party to celebrate Chinese New Year yourself with your own Chinese themed party, you could incorporate some of these elements and it might be worth buying extra fireworks either in November or during the last week of December as they might be harder to find in January/February. At Karnival Costumes we have a good selection of Chinese themed decorations as well as a range of Chinese costumes, wigs, make-up and other costume accessories. If your party is on Chinese New Year's Eve, don't forget throw open your windows and doors at midnight. Gong Hei Fard Choy or maybe just Happy New Year (again)!
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