When you care about someone, it is good to learn more about them obviously. When they are from another culture, I was raised to care about ceremonies and traditions important to their heritage. I look forward to sharing the Chinese New Year with my daughter. I hope we can find a way to bless her best friend’s family who are first generation immigrants from China.
I have been browsing several sites and China Highlights gave me the most information.
Chinese New Year’s Day is called Guo Nian (过年) in Chinese, which can mean ‘celebrate (a new) year’ or ‘overcome Nian’. The character 年 (Nián) could mean a ‘year’ or ‘the monster Nian’. In ancient times, there was a monster named Nian (年, or Nianshou 年兽) with a long head and sharp horns. It dwelled deep in the sea all year round and only showed up every New Year’s Eve to eat people and livestock in nearby villages.
Therefore, on the day of New Year’s Eve, people would flee to remote mountains to avoid being harmed by the monster. People had lived in fear of this monster until an old man with white hair and a ruddy complexion visited the village.He refused to hide in the mountains along with the villagers, but successfully scared away the monster by pasting red papers on doors burning bamboo to make a loud cracking sound (precursor to firecrackers),lighting candles in the houses, and wearing red clothes. When the villagers came back, they were surprised to discover that the village had not been destroyed.
After that, every New Year’s Eve, people did as the old man instructed and the monster Nian ath never showed up again. This tradition has been continued until the present time and has become an important way to celebrate the arrival of the new year.
Intersting story and some many rich traditions surround it. There are certain gifts that are more appropriate than others for this holiday. For instance, white and black relate to death in their culture, but red is a welcome color. Fruit, like lemons and oranges, but not pears, are gifts of prosperity.
I wonder if we will have time to enjoy the festivities in Cleveland, where a large association organizes several festivities, CCCCA.org. At a performance on Saturday, the performers were mesmerizing and engaging.
There are several other activities, as well, listed here. I hope you enjoyed this little side trip to learn about Chinese tradition and will post pics if we venture to one of the shows.