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TUTORIALS

Chinese New Year 2003

Thursday, January 2, 2003
By: Joey Yap

This year Chinese New Year falls on February the 1st 2003. Chinese New Year is a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Each year is represented by one of the 12 animal signs and this year, the Water Goat (Gui Wei), is the animal sign for 2003.

Many people perceive it to have some Feng Shui connotation, but in reality, the Chinese Lunar New Year is a cultural aspect. In the spirit of the season, I would like to share with you some interesting facts about this festival that is celebrated with great joy and festivity by the Chinese.

The Lunar New Year may very well be the oldest chronological record we have. It dates back to the era of Emperor Huang Ti, circa 2500 B.C. When you think about it, it’s only natural, at that time, that they used the moon as a means of recording calendar dates and keeping track of the seasons.

As the name implies, the Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on the cycle of the moon. Based on the observation that there were two full moons in a month, the Lunar calendar came into inception. A relatively simple principle that also incorporates an additional month every three years to compensate for additional days in a year that are not accounted for at times. Every 60 years, the Lunar Calendar is said to have completed a full cycle. Hence, the Lunar New Year predominantly falls in February or January in most years.

You may also often hear the Lunar New Year being refereed to as the “Spring Festival” or “Chun Jie”, in Chinese.

In the olden days, most people in China planted their own crops. The Spring Festival was a celebration of the beginning of that season for planting and sowing crops. To welcome in the rejuvenation of Mother Earth for another year’s bountiful harvest.

Even the emperors of the great Chinese dynasties placed a great deal of importance on the festival. They took a personal interest in ensuring each ceremony was meticulously performed to make certain a good season and fruitful year ahead was guaranteed.

Preparations began a couple of days before the New Year. The house would be rigorously cleaned, old debts would be settled, new furniture and new clothes would be purchased and the house brightly lit up with red lanterns and vertical scrolls wishing an auspicious New Year ahead.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, it is traditional for the family and extended family to gather for a Reunion Dinner. It is a special time for the family, many of whom only saw each other this once a year. In those days, with 8 or 10 children in not being uncommon, Chinese New Year was the one time parents and grandparents really got to spend time with the younger members of the family.

On Reunion Night, houses are brightly lit and a truly bountiful feast is served. Firecrackers can also be heard long into the night; especially the loud red crackers. The louder the noise, the better, as it is said to chase away any spirits with ill intentions that may be hanging about. Many homes also have prayers and burn incense on this night.

There is also the practice of receiving the God of Wealth on the eve or night of the Lunar New Year. Many still practice this today in hopes that they will be blessed with good fortune for the rest of the year.

Those who do not perform this at home will go to the temple and offer prayers; needless to say, it is an extremely crowded, busy situation at the temple with everyone there at the same time.

New Year day itself is spent visiting family, friends and neighbours. The Spring Festival used to be celebrated for 15 days before but this would be impractical gives our present environment. Many Chinese businesses used to also close for the 15 days altogether but today it is usually celebrated over three days, after which businesses will reopen.

The 15th day of the Lunar New Year is known as ‘Chap Goh Mei’, another important celebration. I will provide more insight into that in our next issue if space permits.

If you are interested in Chinese culture and would like to pray to the God of Wealth, you may do so but you should do it out of respect for the traditions. Also, keep in mind that this is not part of Feng Shui but has more to do with Chinese culture. It has no Feng Shui implications if it is followed or not.

The direction you need to face to receive the God of Wealth for 2003 is Southeast on the 1st of February. So, set up your altar to face this direction and perform your prayers between the auspicious hours of 1a.m. and 3 a.m.

If you run a business and will be closed for the Chinese New Year period, the auspicious date to re-open your business again is on the 6th of February between the hours of 9a.m. and 11a.m.

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