December 1, 2022 by Michael Davis No Comments

Chinese New Year 

To an outsider the Chinese New Years is a day on the calendar that we think of where many places offer specials to celebrate the great country of China and its culture.  Chinese New Years is so much deeper than our New Years Celebration.  While theirs and ours begins in a similar fashion with the idea of reflection of the past year and the onset of a new year. 

The Chinese New Year has such deep rich ideas and meaning.  When you look at Chinese New Year you really have to dig into their culture and ancient roots. When you dig, there are 3 overlying factors that are attributed to much of the Chinese tradition.

These 3 factors are: Confucianism, Daoism, legalism

The 3 relate to

  • People as individuals: Confucianism social order, ethics, morality (as part of this the Chinese have a high value on family and friends)
  • The environment: Daoism, the universes harmony and the people keeping its order
  • Legalism: the people stay within themselves, do the disciplines of the government which rules centrally and issues penalties for undisciplined actions.

For more on this topic go to khan academy 

When you look at the people and much of the stereotypes around much of their culture.  They are a people who are very family oriented.  Much of their environmental views have led to the popular concept of Fung Shui. They are very disciplined in their actions probably as the result of the governments emphasis on legalism.

Why does any of this matter.  The people looked to find answers to many questions and problems that they had.  Just like we all do in our situations we live; we too have superstitions. (don’t walk under a latter, or the black cat, Friday the 13th) However, theirs was oppressed with the singular religious views of Buddhism.  I believe the result is many of the superstitions they observe as a culture and the longevity of the country

The essential belief of Buddhism could be answered in lining up the 3 factors above.  Although superstitions were discouraged, the answers to many questions were found in the tradition of superstition adherence. In contrast to the influences of western Christianity

This is a very simplified idea that the Chinese culture and traditions including superstitions, that exist today, are largely influenced by both the 3 factors listed and the predominant religion of Buddhism.

Superstitions are the result of searching for answers to keep the universe in harmony.  The result of such a search is finding an answer that is associated with an obscure thing.  Ex. The number 8 represents luck, 68 represents luck is coming and 68 represents continued fortune.

Here are a few Chinese superstitions

Some Chinese Superstitions

  • Number 8 fortune, prosperity and luck
  • 6 coming , 68 is coming luck or ongoing luck
  • 168 continues fortune
  • 4 is bad luck, means death
  • 18th is hell, - 18th, core,
  • Maneko = cat= good fortune (left arm good fortune, right arm is good health)
  • gifting – giving a clock is bad luck, you wish the person to die
  • Umbrella – don’t open umbrella indoors, bring spirits and ghosts with you
  • gifting – don’t give a pair of shoes, they will run away from you.  Get $1.00
  • don’t share a pear, it is bad luck
  • don’t put your chopstick in your rice, when someone dies you show a picture with bowl of rice and 3 incense burning

Chinese New Year is 23 days long.  2021 is the year of the OX.  Preparations for the Celebration begin February 4th and run through the New Year’s Eve on February 11th.  The spring festival is the New Years celebration, this year it ends on February 22nd.  

Foods follow suit with many of the other traditional dos and don’ts of the celebration

Spring Rolls- eaten on the first day of spring, as appetizer, dinner or snack

Dumplings- means exchange and the exchange is between the old and new year.  Midnight snack

Noodles- for Chinese New Year long noodles are desired, meaning longevity, longer life. (slurping preferred)

Steamed Fish- also means surplus, the blessing wishing for extra food or money

Steamed Chicken- whole chicken is the symbol of family, prior to eating a prayer and offer to ancestors for the first consumption is superstition, while asking for protection and blessing from ancestors

Nian Gao ( Rice Cake)- was used as an offering to the gods, they became a tradition. Sticky glutinous rice or yellow rice.

Vegetable Dishes- tradition says that the spring festival is the time to preserve vegetables for the winter

Hot Pot – you have a pot of broth or stock and you dip vegetables into the pot to cook, remove and dip in sauce. Is a luxurious treat, similar to a fondue pot accept there is no cheese sauce.

The traditions of todo and not to do is large.  For more details go to Chinese new yeart.