Chinese New Year 2015 - Year of the Goat- falls on February 19, 2015Chinatowns all over the world sparkle, shine and pop during Chinese New Year.
This is also true in the United States, and the most-awaited event
during the Chinese New Year is the New Year's parade.
Beautifully decorated floats, lion dances, marching bands all join the parade. Chinese legends, such as Monkey King and the 8 Immortals come to life as they are favorite costumes. Before the New Year, Ms. Chinatown pageants
are held per area. During the Chinese New Year Parade, Ms. Chinatown
and her court join in. It is a fun affair for school children as well,
as they dress up in the animal of the year, or their favorite legend,
or just wearing their festive Chinese dresses.
The Golden Dragon of Chinese New Year
most awaited part of the Chinese New Year program is the dragon dance.
San Francisco, the first place in the US ever to celebrate Chinese New
Year, has a 201-foot-long Golden Dragon called Gum Lung. Gum Lung is
the star of the Chinese New Year parade as it glides through the
streets as firecrackers explode.
Gum Lung the Golden Dragon:
the end of the parade route, firecrackers explode as Gum Lung
approaches and whirls. After the parade, families go home and eat a
late meal together.
- is custom-made by Foshan dragon masters,
- has many beautiful colors symbolizing earth, fire, water and wind.
- has a 6-foot long head
- made from bamboo and rattan
- lined with white fur, decorated with silver rivets
- has 29 segments
- carried by 100 dancers.
Want to learn more about Chinese New Year and other Chinese-American celebrations? See the Good Luck Life by Rose Mary Gong.
Chinese New Year Traditions
Spread over 15 consecutive days, these Chinese New Year traditions have been observed for centuries.
The first day of Chinese New Year is celebrated the most widely. Many
cities across the world consider the first two days of Chinese New Year
to be a public holiday; businesses and offices are usually closed.
Fireworks, lion dances,
and parades fill the streets. Senior members of the family are
especially honored, and younger people receive money, sweets, and small
gifts in red envelopes from their elders.
To maximize good fortune, Buddhists typically refrain from eating meat or killing animals on the first day of Chinese New Year.
The second day of Chinese New Year is considered the official beginning of the new year as well as Cai Shen -- the God of Wealth's -- birthday. Some consider this day to be important for dogs and reward them with treats!
Friends and family members are typically visited, because the following day is considered a bad day to socialize away from home.
In direct contrast with the first two days of Chinese New Year, day three is considered a bad day to visit friends and family; superstitious followers choose to remain at home, or go to have their fortunes told at a temple dedicated to the God of Wealth.
Although Chinese New Year traditions and superstitions persist,
business returns to normal on the fourth day in many places.
Corporations may have department dinners or social events for their
Dumplings are consumed in mainland China on day five. Some groups shoot firecrackers to hopefully bring blessings from Guan Yu -- a famous Chinese general considered the Taoist God of War.
Offices reopen and business returns to normal in places that observe
the first five days of Chinese New Year as a public holiday. Again, more
firecrackers are thrown to keep away malicious spirits who may
interfere with business.
Day seven is considered by many to be the day that everyone grows one
year older. Buddhists do not eat meat, and Chinese communities in
Southeast Asia consume raw fish salad to ensure prosperity.
The eighth day of Chinese New Year is the eve of the Jade Emperor's birthday; special family dinners are held to honor Yu Huang, the Ruler of Heaven. Many employers will thank their employees with food.
The birthday of the Jade Emperor is considered extra important by the
Hokkien Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. Prayers are offered and
incense is lit. Sugarcane is considered a traditional offering.
Recognition and offerings continue to be offered to the Jade Emperor on day 10.
Day 11 – 12
Aside from family dinners, these days are relatively quiet on Chinese New Year.
After a gluttonous twelve days of eating, everyone converts to
vegetarian on the thirteenth day as a peace offering to weary digestive
Day 13 is mostly dedicated to Guan Yu, the God of War. Although everyone is long since back to work, businesses will offer special thanks to the famous general.
Day 14 is spent resting and preparing for the Lantern Festival -- the final Chinese New Year blowout.
Considered by many to be the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day,
the fifteenth and last day of Chinese New Year brings another round of
fireworks, shows, and celebration.
Most romantic of the Chinese New Year traditions, single women once
wrote contact information on oranges, then threw them into the river.
Men would collect the oranges and determine if they would take a chance
with contact based on the sweetness or sourness of the orange!
Not to be confused with the Mid-Autumn Festival,
which is sometimes also referred to as the Lantern Festival, candles
are lit everywhere to attract friendly spirits. Large processions walk
the streets with candles and lanterns.