The History of Chinese New Year

Posted on Tuesday, February 1, 2022

red chinese lanterns

 

Chinese New Year is a festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the lunar Chinese calendar. Unlike most Canadian festivals, the date of the Chinese new year varies every year, ranging between January 21st and February 20th. It is widely celebrated by many other Asian countries, as well as the overseas Asian populations. The celebration for the Chinese New Year could last several weeks, usually until the First Full Moon Festival (also known as the Lantern Festival), 15 days after the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese New Year has been celebrated for over two thousand years, and there are many explanations and legends regarding the origin of the Chinese New Year. One popular legend is that there was a monster named Nian ( how ”year” is pronounced in Chinese). Nian appears once every year during winters and attacks villagers. Families usually gather to defend against the attack of Nian. They gradually realized that Nian has its own weaknesses: afraid of the colour red, loud noises, and fire. This led to the traditions of hanging red spring couplets, lighting bonfires, and firecrackers during the new year celebrations.

The traditions of celebrating Chinese New Year have transformed over the past few centuries, it is also celebrated differently among different regions and countries. Usually, seniors will pass out red envelopes during the Chinese New Year to juniors or children, which could help to get rid of inauspicious spirits and wish the juniors good fortune during this year. Families will gather to have hearty dinners on New Year’s Eve and watch the New Year’s Gala. Some other traditions of Chinese New Year include shopping at New Year Markets, purchasing new clothes (for themselves or as gifts, usually in red color), and light fireworks.

Happy New Year!

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