Valentine’s Day isn’t the only game in town this month. The widely celebrated Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity of the Chinese calendar.
Each New Year starts at the first new moon of the Year and lasts for 15 days ending on the full moon with the Lantern Festival.
This year the observance begins February 10. 2013 is the year of the snake on the Chinese calendar. Not only will it be celebrated in China but also in countries with large Chinese populations and Chinatowns all over the world.
The holiday is a centuries old celebration and comes complete with many myths and traditions.
According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian. The Nian would come on the first day of the New Year to eat livestock, crops, villagers and especially children.
To protect themselves, villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of each year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food, it wouldn’t attack the people. Legend has it the Nian was once scared away by a child wearing red.
There after each New Year, villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. They also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.
Traditional New Year foods include a whole fish which represents togetherness and abundance and a chicken which represents prosperity. The chicken is usually presented with head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness.
It is said of the New Year that the first person one meets and the first words heard are significant and a sign of what fortunes the entire year will bring. It is considered a lucky sign to see or hear songbirds or red colored birds or swallows.
Xin Nian Kuai Le…新年快乐.
Ana Hitzel is the owner of AccentPositives Home Staging and the host of Your Place Your Space Home & Life Improvement Radio.
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