Monday, 4 February 2019

CHINESE NEW YEAR - 10 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW

YEAR OF THE PIG BEGINS 5TH FEBRUARY 2019

The pig is the last in the twelve year zodiac cycle in the Chinese calendar. When the Jade Emperor called for a great meeting, eleven animals came racing along including a monkey, a rooster, a dog (to name but a few) and just as the emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and a squeal was heard and along came trotting the pig! Here are ten cool things you may not know about Chinese New Year!!

1) In the distant past, there was a legendary great beast named Nian that would come every New Year’s Eve. The people lived in fear of this beast that had the head of a lion and the body of a bull. Eventually, it was found out that Nian was afraid of three things: the colour red, loud noises and fire! With that in mind, villagers started to decorate their houses in reds and scarlets, set fires in front of their doors, and stayed up all night making loud festivities and celebration. When Nian next came to visit, it scuttled back into the mountains in fear. Everyone celebrated, and though Nian never returned, the traditions persist just in case!!

2) More fireworks are set off that night than any other night of the year! Firecrackers are supposed to scare off monsters and bad luck for the coming year, so people stay up on New Year’s Eve and set off firecrackers at the strike of midnight. In the morning, firecrackers are used again to welcome the new year and good luck.

3) Showering just isn’t allowed New Year’s Day and sweeping or throwing out the bins isn’t allowed before the 5th! This is to make sure you don’t wash away the good luck! The list of taboos are endless, here are a few more:
- Hair cutting (before February 2)
- Using scissors, knives and other sharp things
- Arguing, swearing
- Saying unlucky words (such as “death” and “sickness”)
- Breaking things

4) Your 'benming' year is the year of your zodiac animal. And of the 12 year cycle, it is the unluckiest for you. There are several reasons for this... the Chinese believe that children can easily be taken by demons. And your 'benming' year is your rebirth year.

5) Chinese New Year ends with a lantern festival. This festival dates back thousands of years to when Buddhists during the Han Dynasty hung lanterns in their temples. It usually occurs on the very last day of the festivities and on the New Moon. Signifying the coming of spring and family reunion.

6) Red envelopes  - containing money is an old tradition. The colour symbolises energy and fortune. Many carry several in their bags just in case they run into someone they wish to gift it to. It is frowned upon to open them in public and it is polite to receive them with both hands.

7) Black AND white clothes are considered a bad omen. Both these colours are a symbol of death in Chinese culture and therefore should be avoided. The best colour to wear is red, as it is a symbol of good luck.

8) Cherries are one of the most popular foods in this festive period! Its red colour obviously ties in with the prosperity and fortune theme; and its roundness symbolises perfection and eternity. Watch supermarkets stock up!!

9) 'Nianhua' or New Year pictures, are traditionally hung on doors during the festive period. The practice is particularly popular in the countryside and was recorded as far back as 800 years ago. The images are brightly coloured scenes of prosperity and good luck. Symbols such as birds and different fruits are popular, with one of the most common scenes being a plump baby with a really big fish!!

10) Everyone has a birthday on the seventh day! That's right, happy birthday to us all!! It is the celebration of Renri, the birthday of all humans. According to tradition, the goddess Nuwa created human beings from clay on the seventh day... so we all get to celebrate!

CATHY SAYS:
Well I've learned something new!! Have YOU got any cool stories or traditions you'd like to share? COMMENT BELOW!

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