One of the most, if not the most, important celebrations or holiday for the Chinese is the Chinese New Year (also called Chinese Lunar New Year or Lunar New Year). In fact, in some Chinese countries it can be celebrated as long as 15 days. In China, Chinese New Year is more commonly known as ‘Chūn Jié’ or Spring Festival, because it’s really the start of spring in China. In fact, for us here in the Philippines, before the climate change has started messing with our weather, you’ll notice that it starts to get warm once we’ve celebrated Chinese New Year.
There are different ways of celebrating Chinese New Year, not only for overseas Chinese, but also for Chinese in China who may have varying regional customs and traditions. However, it is not uncommon for people to splurge and buy presents, various Feng Shui decorations, new things that can be put inside the house, delicious food and new clothes. I suppose it’s very much like how Christians celebrates Christmas.
If Filipinos visits their grandparents or their Ninongs and Ninangs on Christmas day, the Chinese tradition is for children to visit their grandparents and other elders to greet them a healthy and happy new year. Traditionally, they in turn received Ang Pao(s) or red envelopes with money in it. It is said that one shouldn’t spend the money inside the red envelope within a year.
Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and even Feng Shui believers will strive to pay the money that they owe before Chinese New Year, this is to ensure that they’ll have a better year. But if you loan somebody money, it is also advised to forget about it to bring more blessings.
Chinese New Year falls on different date each year because one follows the cycle of the moon. However, some Feng Shui experts says while the date may change every year, some of them believes that the stars the really ushers in the ‘New Year’ is always on the Feb. 4. I personally don’t agree with this. This is just to make things easy to remember as to what is your birth sign and is usually suggested by ‘Feng Shui experts’ who are too lazy to take time out to study the stars.
According to legend, the celebration of a Chinese New Year started when a mythical beast called 年 (Nián), which is also the term for year in Chinese would always come once a year to devour livestocks and crops, and sometimes Nian would even attack people, especially children. One day, a couple accidentally left food outside their house and when Nian attacked they were spared. Soon the practice of leaving food outside their house or altar became a practice, and the people saw that this is a good practice to escape Nian’s attack. Thus the start of the practice of Chinese New Year.