The origin of Chinese New Year is too old to be actually traced. Often called the Lunar New Year by people residing in mainland China and Taiwan, it is the most important traditional Chinese holiday. Today, the festival is popularly known as the Spring Festival, as it starts on the onset of spring (and is celebrated across 15 days). Chinese New Year is quite similar to the Western New Year, swathed in traditions and rituals. The festival has a major influence on China’s geographic neighbors as well, which include Korea, Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, Vietnam and Japan. In these countries, the festival is celebrated with almost as much pomp and fanfare as China. Read on further to know more interesting and amazing information on the history, origin and background of Chinese New Year.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year originated out of fear and myth. Tales and legends say that it started with a fight against a mythical beast called Nien. He appeared on the first day of the New Year to demolish livestock, crops and villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers stared placing food on their door front, for Nien, as they believed that he would not attack people after eating food. It so happened one day that Nien got frightened by a child who was wearing red clothes, which brought out his weakness in front of the villagers. Since then, every year, before the New Year arrived, villagers started hanging red lanterns and red spring rolls on their windows and doors, to scare away the beast.
The tradition of using red decorations continued over the ages and became a part of New Year celebrations. The dates of Chinese New Year are determined by the lunisolar calendar. And, as per the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates every year, somewhere between January 21 and February 20. According to the Chinese calendar, the winter solstice must occur in the 11th month, which means that Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The day is observed as a public holiday in various other countries and territories as well, where a sizeable Chinese population resides.
The period around Chinese New Year is called chunyun. The New Year’s Eve is called “Chuxi”, which means “Year-pass Eve”. Around this time, all those Chinese who have migrated to other parts of the world travel back home, to have reunion dinners with their families on New Year’s Eve. Hence, the largest human migration takes place around this festival. Chinese New Year celebrations start on the first day of the first month and ends on the 15th day. The 15th day is called Lantern Festival, where families walk the street carrying lighted lanterns. This marks the end of Chinese New Year festivities.
The principal color used in Chinese New Year celebrations is red. The color represents joy and symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. All the things associated with New Year and its ceremonies, such as candies, cakes, decorations, clothes etc, are painted in the color red. A red painted face can also be seen on the Chinese opera stage around this time, denoting a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes, a great emperor. The color red has been made into a Chinese sound called “hong” as well, which means “prosperous”. So, around New Year time in China, you will find the color almost everywhere.