Friday 9 February 2024

Happy New Lunar Year!

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is a high-spirited celebration deeply ingrained in Chinese culture, marking the beginning of the lunar calendar year.  Lasting for roughly two weeks, the festivities are rich in symbolism and tradition, creating a sense of unity and renewal among families and communities.  The New Year is associated with one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle with 2024 being the Year of the Dragon. 

People embrace this symbolism, ascribing personality traits and predictions to individuals born in specific years. This aspect adds a room of excitement and anticipation as families gather to share stories, exchange well-wishes, and partake of delectable feasts.  Food holds a special place during Chinese New Year, with traditional dishes symbolizing luck, prosperity, and abundance. 
Dumplings, representing wealth due to their resemblance to ancient Chinese ingots, are a staple on the dinner table.  Nian Gao, a sticky rice cake, symbolizes growth, progress, and achieving new heights in the coming year.  Fish, served whole, symbolizes surplus and prosperity, with the Cantonese phrase for fish sounding like "surplus" or "extra."  These culinary delights are shared among loved ones as part of the reunion dinner, a cherished tradition held on New Year's Eve, symbolizing family unity and prosperity for the year ahead. 
Throughout Chinese New Year, customs and rituals abound, each with its own significance and symbolism. Red decorations adorn homes and streets, believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.  Fireworks and firecrackers are set off to create deafening noise and vibrant displays, driving away negative energy and welcoming the new year with optimism.  The exchange of red envelopes, or "Hongbao," filled with money, is a gesture of goodwill and blessings, particularly towards children and younger relatives. 
Family visits, known as "bai nian," involve paying respects to elders, exchanging well-wishes, and strengthening bonds, reinforcing the importance of kinship and tradition during this wonderful time.  Overall, Chinese New Year is a cultural time of year filled with warmth, symbolism, and the promise of new beginnings. 
Jun Wei Sui

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