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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Happy New Year! Chinese New Year That Is!

~Xin nian kuai le - Gong xi fa cai ~
 Happy New Year - wishing you good fortune!

And guess what? February 3rd began the Year of the Rabbit!
We are all pretty excited about that here at Rabbit Run Cottage!

Chinese New Year is a holiday that celebrates the beginning of a new year according to the lunar calendar. It is considered to be one of the most important holidays for Chinese families.

The holiday is celebrated with big family gatherings, gift giving, the eating of symbolic foods and display of festive decorations--all focused on bringing good luck for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring.

The start of Chinese New Year changes every year since it is dictated by the lunar calendar. The Gregorian or solar calendar--which is based on the Earth's movement around the sun and has a fixed number of 365 days a year (366 during a leap year)--is the most widely used calendar system in the world and has been the official calendar used in China since 1912.

But in China the lunar calendar is still used to determine traditional holidays like Chinese New Year. Since the lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon-- which has a shorter cycle than the sun--Chinese New Year is never on the same day each year, but typically falls somewhere between January 21st and February 20th.

According to Daria Ng, Assistant Curator of Education at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York City, celebrations can actually last up to a month, especially in China.

Originally the celebrations lasted for lengthy amounts of time because China was a very agriculture-based country so farmers took the whole month off to rest since crops couldn't be planted during the winter. Nowadays most families celebrate the New Year for about two week's time, says Ng, starting on the first day of the new year and end on the 15th.

I wanted to share with you some pictures taken at the Chinese new year celebrations
we have attended over the past few years!


Grace and two dear friends at the 2010 celebration!


                                                                     Our Gracie in 2009

                                          And what would a Chinese New Year celebration
                                                            be without a dragon parade?

The Dragon is present in many Chinese cultural celebrations as the Chinese people often think of themselves as descendants of the mythical creature. On the fifth day of the New Year when many people have to start going back to work, they will also have the Dancing Dragons perform in the front of the office building. On the 15th day of the New Year (Yuan Xiao Jie), they will also have a lot of dancing dragon performances. The dragon represents prosperity, good luck and good fortune.
And we need a little of those right?

One tradition we enjoy is handing the children a red envelope!
Called "hong bao" in Mandarin, the red envelopes filled with money are typically only given to children or unmarried adults with no job. If you're single and working and making money, you still have to give the younger ones the hong bao money.

 The color red denotes good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance in the Chinese Culture and is often worn or used for decoration in other celebrations. It's just a joyous color to wear no matter the significance!

And never forget the fireworks!
Here is our Gracie celebrating Chinese New Year in 2005!

May good luck, joy and prosperity be yours in 2011 and always!


Terri said...

I totally love fireworks!!

I would love to wear such gorgeous clothing. So bright and pretty!

Lynilu said...

Sue, I love this, especially the part about you keeping their native culture alive for your children. It's so important. I'm a culture-freak, loving learning about and experiencing celebrations from other cultures and incorporating tiny bits of that into my own.

I'm hoping I can afford to go to Oaxaca this summer to celebrate my granddaughter's quinceanera! It would be another chapter in my cultural journal!

Pamela said...

reminds me of when my youngest was in 2nd grade. I had a beautiful elderly chinese woman as a customer -- and she gave me a bunch of stuff to take into my daughters class for chinese new years (including the red envelops)

She had a dragon -- and the kids got to get inside and "dance" around the room.
Good memories.

Brown English Muffin said...

I honestly think my favorite post of yours are pictures of Grace through the years where I can see how much she's grown. Thanks

Jack Canfield quotes said...

Hope you had a wonderful Chinese new year!

Meggie said...

Happy (Chinese) New Year, Sweet Sue! Love all the photos of the celebration. All the young ladies look gorgeous.

Deanna said...

Hi darling!! I sure have missed you! Hope you and your dear family are doing well. I loved your post. Grace is so lovely.

Deanna :D

Life in the Big Grey Victorian On The Corner said...

I am just a sucker for all the color and pagentry. LOL! Looks like your celebration was a lot of fun!