Chinese New Year 2021

Friday, 12 February 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

Chinese New Year Fireworks over Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong © flickr.com - Michael Elleray/cc-by-2.0

Chinese New Year Fireworks over Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong © flickr.com – Michael Elleray/cc-by-2.0

Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. In Chinese culture and East Asian countries, the festival is commonly referred to as the Spring Festival as the spring season in the lunisolar calendar traditionally starts with lichun, the first of the twenty-four solar terms which the festival celebrates around the time of. Marking the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season, observances traditionally take place from New Year’s Eve, the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February. In 2021, the first day of the Chinese New Year will be on Friday, 12 February, which is the Year of the Ox.

Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in China, and has strongly influenced Lunar New Year celebrations such as the Losar of Tibet and of China’s neighbouring cultures, including the Korean New Year, and the Tết of Vietnam. It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Overseas Chinese or Sinophone populations, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Mauritius, as well as many in North America and Europe.

The Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. The festival was traditionally a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely, and the evening preceding the New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Another custom is the decoration of windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets. Popular themes among these paper-cuts and couplets include that of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. For the northern regions of China, dumplings are featured prominently in meals celebrating the festival. It often serves as the first meal of the year either at midnight or as breakfast of the first day.

Chinese New Year decorations along New Bridge Road, Singapore © C1815 Chinese New Year Fireworks over Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong © flickr.com - Michael Elleray/cc-by-2.0 Chinese candy box © flickr.com - Denise Chan/cc-by-sa-2.0 Shoppers at a Chinese New Year market in Chinatown, Singapore © Calvin Teo/cc-by-sa-3.0 Chinese New Year in Kobe Chinatown, Japan © 663highland/cc-by-2.5 Chinese New Year at Ke Lok Si, Southeast Asia's largest temple, near George Town in Penang, Malaysia © Flying Pharmacist/cc-by-sa-3.0 Chinese New Year decoration in London Chinatown © flickr.com - Oliver Spalt/cc-by-2.0
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Chinese New Year at Ke Lok Si, Southeast Asia's largest temple, near George Town in Penang, Malaysia © Flying Pharmacist/cc-by-sa-3.0
A reunion dinner is held on New Year’s Eve during which family members gather for a celebration. The venue will usually be in or near the home of the most senior member of the family. The New Year’s Eve dinner is very large and sumptuous and traditionally includes dishes of meat (namely, pork and chicken) and fish. Most reunion dinners also feature a communal hot pot as it is believed to signify the coming together of the family members for the meal. Most reunion dinners (particularly in the Southern regions) also prominently feature specialty meats (e.g. wax-cured meats like duck and Chinese sausage) and seafood (e.g. lobster and abalone) that are usually reserved for this and other special occasions during the remainder of the year. In most areas, fish is included, but not eaten completely (and the remainder is stored overnight), as the Chinese phrase “may there be surpluses every year” sounds the same as “let there be fish every year.” Eight individual dishes are served to reflect the belief of good fortune associated with the number. If in the previous year a death was experienced in the family, seven dishes are served.

Other traditional foods consists of noodles, fruits, dumplings, spring rolls, and Tangyuan which are also known as sweet rice balls. Each dish served during Chinese New Year represents something special. The noodles used to make longevity noodles are usually very thin, long wheat noodles. These noodles are longer than normal noodles that are usually fried and served on a plate, or boiled and served in a bowl with its broth. Expectedly, the noodles symbolize the wish for a long life. The fruits that are typically selected would be oranges, tangerines, and pomelos as they are round and “golden” color symbolizing fullness and wealth. Their lucky sound when spoken also brings good luck and fortune. The Chinese pronunciation for orange is chéng, which sounds the same as the Chinese word for ‘success’. One of the ways to spell tangerine contains the Chinese character for luck. Pomelos is believed to bring constant prosperity. Pomelo in Chinese sounds similar to ‘to have’, disregarding its tone, however it sounds exactly like ‘again’. Dumplings and spring rolls symbolize wealth, whereas sweet rice balls symbolize family togetherness.

Red packets for the immediate family are sometimes distributed during the reunion dinner. These packets contain money in an amount that reflects good luck and honorability. Several foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune. Several of the Chinese food names are homophones for words that also mean good things. Many places in China still follow the tradition of eating only vegetarian food on the first day of the New Year, as it is believed that doing so will bring joy and peace into their lives for the whole year. Like many other New Year dishes, certain ingredients also take special precedence over others as these ingredients also have similar-sounding names with prosperity, good luck, or even counting money.

Read more on Wikivoyage Golden Week holidays in China and Wikipedia Chinese New Year (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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