Here we are, fresh into the Year of the Pig, having just passed the Chinese New Year celebration!
In the Chinese zodiac, there are 12 animals used to represent the years, and 2019 is known as the year of the pig. The Chinese zodiac plays an important role in Chinese culture and is used to predict your fortune for the year from future marriage, to fit for a career, to the best times to start a family.
If you’d like to know which animal your birth date represents, there are many online tools.
Chinese New Year’s is a 23-day celebration that starts with the Little Year which involves preparation for the festivities and begins on January 28th lasting until New Year’s Eve on February 4th. With the Spring Festival starting on February 5th, the New Year’s festivities are in full swing and last until the conclusion of the celebration on February 19th. The last day of the celebration is marked by the Lantern Festival which is the climax of the event and includes lighting lanterns, lion dances, and enjoying a festival favorite sticky rice balls.
The New Year’s event is a time of change and new beginnings with a focus of shedding off the old and bringing in the new. So when donning your duds for the events, it is important to dress in new clothing which is a way to show your start into your new fortune as well as help to ward off evil spirits in the upcoming year.
The ability to wear new clothes during the holiday is considered a splurge for those who have scrimped and saved throughout the year. While buying yourself new clothes to wear to the celebrations is perfectly acceptable, the new clothes are often given by the family as a gift and a wish for a fresh start that the New Year can bring.
While the Spring Festival is a time to celebrate and welcome the New Year, it is also filled with superstitions, and there are many taboos that you will want to avoid during this time to ensure that you receive good fortune and happiness.
Red pockets are a popular form of gift-giving during the Chinese New Year to wish children peace and prosperity in the upcoming year. The origin behind the red pockets is a Chinese legend that claimed that an evil spirit called Sui would pat children on the head three times, causing fevers and changing their lives forever. The legend goes on to state that parents had tried entertaining their child with some coins which they placed on red paper by their pillow when they fell asleep. As Sui came to touch them, they were frightened away by the coins, and the child was safe. This began the tradition of parents giving their children coins wrapped in red paper on New Year’s.
In modern times, there are two types of red pockets used in celebration of the Spring Festival. Adults who are middle-aged are expected to give red pockets to both their children and their parents or elders. While the tradition was originally started between both family and close friends, it is now common practice to give red pockets to almost anyone. Sometimes they are exchanged between those who are acquaintances to be polite, as a fun way to celebrate between friends, and even exchanged by co-workers and management as a way to socially network.
When given a red pocket during a New Year’s visit there are some traditions that should accompany it. If grandparents are present, they should sit at the back of the room, and all children and grandchildren will perform three kowtows as a sign of respect to their elders. To perform a kowtow, you will need to kneel and place your hands on the ground in front of you. Then bend over, resting your head between your hands. After this sign of respect has been presented, the children will receive their red pockets.
Whether you plan to take advantage of all of the traditions of the Chinese New Year, or just want to participate in the festivities, using the guide above can help you become a part of the celebration. Make sure to avoid the taboos and prepare yourself to receive the blessing and prosperity that a new year can bring to make the year of the pig one that you will remember always.
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