The Chinese New Year: Uses and Traditions
Translated by Luciana Soares - email@example.com
There is a popular motto in China, which says: "All the planning for the year is made in the spring", because the arrival of the New Year coincides with the beginning of the spring there, always in the end of January or beginning of February. There isn't a right date, as here in the west, because the Chinese calendar is based on the moon cycle.
On New Year's Eve people do a general cleaning: they clean the house up, have their hair cut, pay their bills, put offerings to the Gods that take care of the house, put in order the clothes...
The red color, because it is yang and vibrating, is the predominant color during New Year's Eve celebrations. Women of the family try to use a new dress with this color to have luck and a good year. Besides this color, other colors to bring luck are yellow and purple.
In the last supper of the year the family gets together for the closing meal of the annual cycle. They prepare many dishes to bring all kinds of luck and happiness. Small golden ingot cakes are always present; the fish that represents the money; the tangerines, also called lucky oranges; the dish made of ‘moti’ rice representing prosperity and noodles (pasta) that represents long life, commonly used on birthdays. All the fruits and sweets are served on red trays or packages.
The meal is served on a round table to improve the relationship and the union of the members of the family. People try to forgive past insults, forget the differences and avoid bad thoughts. Everything is celebrated with a lot of happiness and abundance to bring a lot of luck and happiness.
During the celebration, red lanterns are lighted and hung in front of the main door, and they will only be removed after the 15 days of the New Year. Fireworks explode to scare the bad spirits.
On the first day of the year it is very common for the children and the single people of the house to get a red envelope with money. This envelope is distributed by the matriarch of the house (the grandmother or the great-grandmother) with auspicious purposes.
Another practice is to write wishes in black paint on pieces of red paper at the entrance door. Black represents water and wisdom; red represents fire and success. According to a popular saying "When a straw of water falls on the fire, there is a boiling; and it is through boiling that everything happens". The wishes must be written by competent and creative calligraphers, in a poetic and metaphoric way to bring luck and fulfillment.
A different form of this custom is the Spread of the Spring when people write on a piece of red paper their sincere requests and good intentions with a beautiful handwriting. This request must always aim well, it can't be selfish and never aim at affecting someone. After thinking on the accomplished request, the paper is hung on the window or door, with a red thread or ribbon, so that the wind can take and bring the wish.
As we can see, customs may be different, but the intentions are always the same.
Happy Chinese New Year!
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