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chinese new year, blessing, celebration

Your Top 7 Chinese New Year Traditions and the Meaning Behind Them

Chinese New Year is commemorated by most Chinese in Singapore. The initial day of the lunar new year typically drops between the winter season solstice (dongzhi) and also springtime’s start (lichun). This generally falls in between 21 January as well as 20 February annually. Throughout Chinese New Year, individuals have a long list of things to do. From one week coming before the festival to the 15th day after, numerous Chinese New Year customs are commonly observed for hundreds of years. The family reunion supper, consuming dumplings, and giving of red packets are the must-dos that you may recognize. Let Tropika Club update you on the top 7 Chinese Lunar New Year traditions and customs and the meaning behind them.

1. House Spring Cleaning

Cleaning the house is a long-observed Chinese New Year tradition. The ground, the walls, and every corner of the house need to be cleaned. In Chinese, “Dust” is a homophone for the word “Chen”, meaning the old. Therefore a year-end cleaning is needed to drive the old things or the bad luck away from the house, and get ready for a new start.

Throughout the celebration in China, the first day of the new year notes the end of the winter season, so the cleansing routine that happens before is likewise springtime cleaning. There’s a saying in Cantonese that implies “wash away the dirt on Ninyabaat.” Ninyabaat is the 28th day of the 12th month (the Chinese schedule having 12 months like the Gregorian one that we use). Yet it’s just typically done before the first day of the new year. Completely cleansing your home frees it of the misfortune of the past year and also gets it ready to full of the all the best certain to follow in the brand-new one. Lots of people additionally utilize this time around to repaint their homes as well as fix anything that’s damaged. Areas must be brushed up from the entrance to the centre, with garbage going out the back door. The front door is for the best of luck to find in! Cleaning devices like mops are done away with and also not used for at the very least the first couple of days after the brand-new year begins so they do not sweep away any good luck.

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2. Paste Spring Festival Couplets

Couplets are typically pasted on doorways as a part of the festival’s decoration. The custom of pasting Spring Festival couplets can be traced back over 1,000 years to the Later Shu State (934 – 965). The original form of modern couplets was called “daofu”, a piece of peach wood protecting against evil without any writing on. In the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), the antithetical couplets began to be written on the wood to express people’s good wishes. Later, the modern form of couplets appeared replacing the peach wood with the red paper. The couplets include two vertical scrolls on two sides and a horizontal scroll on the top.

You can also call it New Year couplets or chun lian 春联 in Chinese. They are red coloured strips usually with black or golden Calligraphy Chinese characters written on them. Red coloured dominated means luck and gold characters show wealth. A suite of spring festival couplets should have two longer strips for both side of the doorway, a shorter strip for door head and a diamond-shaped couplet which should be pasted in the middle on the door.  

Most of the spring festival suites are now also have 6-8 red envelopes and two paper cuttings in the package for making a better sale.

3. Paste the “Fu” Character

Diamond-shaped fu characters, or fú zi (福字) in Chinese. It means happiness and wealth. They should be included in the spring festival couplets package as it mentioned above, but you can always get some better designed ones separately. This is the one that you may have heard of should be pasted up-side down. The personality “Fu”, meaning good luck or joy, is used to express people’s good wish and also yearning for the future, so individuals usually paste it on evictions or some furniture in your home throughout the Chinese New Year. Pasting the “Fu” upside-down, implying the arrival of joy or good fortune, is a commonly accepted personalized among Chinese individuals.

In ancient time, this personality as well as the couplets were written by hand, now, individuals can buy printed ones. Some stores even present these printed jobs to their customers. Why fu character has to be up-side down? In Chinese, up-side down 倒 dào is pronounced similar to the word 到 dào which means arrive, therefore, do the happiness up-side down symbolises the happiness arrives.


4. Spring Festival Paper Cutting

Because the cut-outs are often used to decorate doors and windows, they are sometimes referred to as chuāng huā (窗花), window flowers or window paper-cuts. Normally paper-cutting artwork is used on festivals like Spring Festival, weddings and childbirth. Papercuts always symbolize luck and happiness. Chinese paper-cutting originated from ancient activities of worshipping ancestors and gods, and is a traditional part of Chinese culture. According to archaeological records, it originates from the 6th century, although some believe that its history could be traced as far back as the Warring States period (around 3 BC), long before the paper was invented. At that time, people used other thin materials, like leaves, silver foilsilk and even leather, to carve hollowed patterns. Later, when paper was invented, people realized that this material was easy to cut, store and discard, and paper became the major material for this type of artwork. During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912), this artistry witnessed its most prosperous period. For over a thousand years, people (mainly women) have been making paper-cuts as part a leisure activity. They created different type of paper-cutting and shared and passed this traditional craftsmanship to their children, so that this traditional art style became more and more popular and is still practiced to this day.

5. Give Red Packets

Red pocket, red packet, red envelope… what is this magical red thing? Regardless what term you use, 红包 (hóng bāo) are great because they contain money. The money in red envelopes is also known as 压岁钱 (yā suì qián). Literally, it is “money to anchor the year(s).” It is also known as “lucky money” or “New Year’s money.” By giving the money to children, elders are hoping to pass on a year of good fortune and blessings. Another version is given by the younger generation to their elders as a blessing of longevity and a show of gratitude.

According to legends, there was an impressive animal called Nian (年). Once a year, it would certainly appear of the forest in the evening as well as devour entire villages. The steps of defence versus Nian throughout New Year’s Eve changed right into the Spring Event celebration. Moms and dads would likewise give children cash that night. In this manner, the children would certainly have something to approach the monster or other fiends with.

In an additional preferred tale, there is a devil called Sui (祟). On New Year’s Eve, it would certainly come as well as pat youngsters’s head while sleeping. His touch was tainted. To protect their youngsters, moms and dads would certainly keep up the entire night, safeguarding them. One couple gave their youngster a coin to have fun with. When he slept, they positioned the coin beside the cushion. At twelve o’clock at night, a spooky wind snuffed out the candle. When Sui grabbed the child, the coin flashed in the darkness as well as scared him away. The following day, the couple covered the coin in red paper to reveal their next-door neighbours.


6. Reunion Dinners

The get-together dinner, additionally known as Tuan Nian or Wei Lu, marks a family members celebration on the Lunar New Year’s Eve and also the Chinese consider it to be one of the most integral part of the event.

Tuan Nian:
Standard Chinese: 團年, Pinyin: tuán nián, equated: (re) join or grouping year; describing the practice of family members event at the reunion supper

Wei Lu:
Conventional Chinese: 圍爐, Pinyin: wéilú, literally: to circle the range

Kids are intended to go back to their families, married couples will go the male’s loved ones (as well as to the lady’s relatives on the 2nd day of the festivities). If a relative couldn’t participate in the grand feasting, his/her existence is normally symbolized by placing a vacant seat at the reception.

For this dish, the most effective foods and also ‘dishes with a definition’ are served – as well as in wealth as well, as the wealth of food is believed to bring the household terrific product wide range in the new year. Chinese like playing with words and icons. Commonly homonyms (words that share the exact same enunciation however have different definitions) are made use of. Names of meals or their ingredients which will be offered audio similar to words and expressions referring to desires revealed throughout the Chinese New Year. Other foods hold a symbolic definition.
Most reunion dinners will certainly consist of a whole hen, symbolising prosperity, togetherness of the family members and also joy (note: hen with its head, tail as well as feet signifies completeness) and a whole fish (Traditional Chinese: 魚; Simplified Chinese: 鱼; Pinyin: yú), symbolizing excess, success, ‘having leftovers of cash’, hence abundance. To strengthen the symbolic meaning of the fish meal, more than likely it will certainly not the consumed completely.

The Chinese phrase “might there be surpluses every year” (Conventional Chinese: 年年有餘; Simplified Chinese: 年年有余; Pinyin: nián nián yǒu yú) appears the same as “might there be fish each year.”

7. The Lo Hei or Yusheng

Among the many rich traditions exercised in Singapore as part of our Chinese New Year parties, the ‘Lo Hei’ is a festive as well as in some cases untidy routine that brings individuals with each other to conjure up want the year ahead while throwing and incorporating the active ingredients of the yusheng meal– a colourful raw fish salad made with components including green radish, fish, shredded carrot, plum sauce, peanuts and also spices. Each component stands for true blessings such as good riches, good health and also happiness, and as each part is included, dreams of good luck and success are recited. These components are then gambled airborne as well as blended– Lo Hei means ‘gambling good luck’– and the greater they are combined and also lifted, the more prosperity it is purported to bring.

It is often assumed that the tradition of Lo Hei was brought from mainland China. However, this particular tradition was actually adopted in the heart of Singapore’s community spirit. The Lo Hei has various components to it, and the modern version of the dish actually marks an evolution of a dish that was historically eaten around Chinese New Year. In Singapore, four chefs are credited with coming up with the modern version of the dish, and according to the National Heritage Board of Singaporethe chefs: “claimed that the Lo Hei practice was not invented by them, but was a result of spontaneous reaction of customers to the dish they created. This became a new way of eating yusheng.”

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Terence is Tropika Club Magazine's deputy editor who loves learning about animals and their behavior. He is also an anthropologist, so he is very interested in how different cultures interact with animals. He has worked in the publishing industry for over 10 years, and have been lucky enough to work with some amazing authors and editors.

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