Chinese New Year's Eve

Chinese New Year's Eve (Lunar New Year's Eve) is the day before the Chinese New Year(Lunar New Year). Celebrating Chinese (Lunar) New Year’s Eve has always been a family matter in Asia, it is the reunion day for every Asian family. It has evolved over a long period of time. The origin of Asian Lunar New Year’s Eve can be traced back to 3500 years ago.

Chinese New Year's Eve (Lunar New Year's Eve)
Red lanterns on display during Chinese New Year in San Francisco.jpg
Official name除夕 (chúxī) in China
Observed byChina, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam
TypeCultural, Religious
SignificanceCelebrates the end of the year
Datelast day of 12th lunar month[1]
Related toChinese New Year

HistoryEdit

Chinese New Year's Eve originated in the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 BC), when Chinese held sacrificial ceremonies in honour of gods and ancestors at the end of each year. Then in the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BC), the phrase “Nian (Year)”appeared and certain cultural practices became popular among Chinese such as sending door god, burning bamboo.[2]

The first dated Chinese New Year's Eve was recorded during Warring States period (475 BC – 221 AD). In Lüshi Chunqiu, an exorcistic ritual called "Big Nuo" (大傩) was recorded being carried out in the ending day of a year to expel illness in Qin (state). It was derived from an earlier ritual, Nuo (傩), which is the origin of Chinese New Year's Eve.[3][4] Later, Qin unified China and founded the Qin dynasty, the ritual was continued. It evolved to cleaning up houses thoroughly in the preceding days of Chinese New Year.

During the Jin dynasty (266 – 420 AD), people started to do the “Shousui (守岁)” tradition on New Year's Eve. It was recorded by Western Jin's general Zhou Chu's article Fengtu Ji (风土记): "At the ending of a year, people gift and wish each other, calling it Kuisui (馈岁); people invitd others with drinks and food, calling it Biesui (别岁); on the new year's eve, people stayed up all night until sunrise, calling it Shousui (守岁)".[5][6] The article used the word "除夕 (Chuxi)" to indicate new year's eve, and the name is still used till this day.

Dates of Chinese New Year’s EveEdit

Since Chinese are using lunar calendar, there's no fixed date for Chinese New Year’s Eve. Here is the table for the dates of Chinese New Year's Eve from 2011 to 2031.

Dates of Chinese New Year's Eve (2011 - 2031)[7]
Years Date Day
2011 Feb 2, 2011 Wednesday
2012 Jan 22, 2012 Sunday
2013 Feb 9, 2013 Saturday
2014 Jan 30, 2014 Thursday
2015 Feb 18, 2015 Wednesday
2016 Feb 7, 2016 Sunday
2017 Jan 27, 2017 Friday
2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday
2019 Feb 4, 2019 Monday
2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday
2021 Feb 11, 2021 Thursday
2022 Jan 31, 2022 Monday
2023 Jan 21, 2023 Saturday
2024 Feb 9, 2024 Friday
2025 Jan 28, 2025 Tuesday
2026 Feb 16, 2026 Monday
2027 Feb 5, 2027 Friday
2028 Jan 25, 2028 Tuesday
2029 Feb 12, 2029 Monday
2030 Feb 2, 2030 Saturday
2031 Jan 22, 2031 Wednesday

TraditionsEdit

Chinese New Year's Eve’s practice is the cluster of this festival’s history and tradition for thousands of years, there are many practices in China which are varied as people in different regions have different customs. Most of the practices exists for thousands years and still being used nowadays.

GatheringEdit

In most parts of China, especially in the south, people are used to having grand family banquets to celebrate Chinese New Year's Eve which is known as “Happy gathering”. Since it is the last meal of the year, all the family members must sit together to enjoy the delicious family traditional dishes and everybody in the family is allowed to and encouraged to drink. Before the happy gathering, each family must offer a sacrifice to ancestors, usually three or four generations of the dead. The family must set a table with various dishes and provide a seat for each ancestor, then the eldest member of the family pours drinks for them. After burning some joss sticks and candles, the ancestors are supposed to begin to eat, and the whole family members should worship them on bended knees and kowtow. After the grand family banquet, all family members sit together around fireplace, chatting, singing, laughing or playing cards and stay up late to the dawn of next morning.[2]

Gala TV showEdit

The spring festival gala is a TV show which broadcasts live by China's Central Television on Lunar New Year’s Eve with singing, dancing, sketch comedy and cross-talk. It usually takes 6 months to do the preparation.[2] Since more and more Chinese families could afford television from 1980s, the spring festival gala has been institutionalised as a crucial practice of Chinese New Year’s Eve, every family member sits in front of the TV, watching spring festival gala together. The spring festival gala will broadcast until midnight, everyone in front of the televisions will say "Happy New Year" at midnight with the hosts.[2]

 
Firecrackers String

Burning of bamboo and use of firecrackersEdit

There's an ancient myth that a devil who lived in western mountains, people would fall ill if come across it, but the devil is afraid of the sound of bamboo. So Chinese will burn bamboo to make the sound to keep the devil out of their house on Chinese New Year's Eve. Nowadays, Chinese people still like to light firecrackers instead of bamboo on Chinese New Year's Eve not just for keeping devil out, but also for having fun.[8]

The Kitchen GodEdit

 
Kitchen God

The Chinese kitchen god is regarded as the ambassador of the Jade Emperor to each Chinese family. It is said that at the midnight of Chinese New Year’s Eve, the kitchen god from each family should go to heaven to report the family’s deeds during the year.[8] On lunar new year, the kitchen god returns to the earth and each family welcomes him by pasting a new picture of him in the kitchen.

Inviting a Door GodEdit

 
Door God

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, each family would invite the door god by pasting its picture on the front door as a talisman to forbid any devil to enter the family. The most popular door gods are Zhong kui, Qin shubao and Yu chigong in different area of China.[8]

Peach woodEdit

On Chinese New Year's Eve, Chinese will make bow of peach wood to exorcise the devil that caused plagues, which dates back to the Qin Dynasty. The ghost would do no harm to man, but the ancients were afraid of them, so they asked for help to drive the ghost away. The entrance-guarding god was closely related to festivals and peach wood was regarded as a supernatural force with which ghosts could be driven away.[8]

Traditional foods for Chinese New Year’s EveEdit

Family reunion dinner is crucial to Chinese. Chinese New Year’s Eve feast allows every family members to sit together. It takes days to do the preparation. Every dish on Chinese New Year’s Eve have different meanings. Some of the most popular dishes are:

 
Chinese Vegetable Spring Roll

Spring RollsEdit

Spring rolls is a traditional dish in East China. It is a Cantonese dish which people make the thin dough wrappers in the cylindrical-shaped rolls and fill them with vegetables, meat, or something sweet, then fried the spring rolls to give them a golden-yellow color.[9]

 
Dumplings

DumplingsEdit

The dumpling is a traditional food to eat in north China on Chinese New Year’s Eve while in southern China very few people serve dumplings as Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner. Minced meat (pork, shrimp, chicken, beef.etc.) and vegetables are wrapped in the elastic dough skin. Boiling, steaming, frying are the most common ways to cook dumplings in China.[9]

Glutinous Rice CakeEdit

 
Glutinous Rice Cake

Glutinous Rice Cake is called "Nian Gao" in mandarin. The sound of Nian Gao has a good meaning: getting higher year by year. Glutinous Rice Cake is made of sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, lotus leaves. It is a common dish which appeared in the southern Chinese families' Lunar New Year Eve reunion dinner.[9]

Good Fortune FruitEdit

 
Tangerines

Tangerines, oranges and pomelos are certain fruits that been eaten on Lunar New Year's Eve. Chinese believe that eating these fruits on Chinese New Year's Eve can bring fortune as these fruits have round shape, golden colour, lucky sounds when spoken which symbolise fullness and wealth.[9]

Longevity NoodlesEdit

Longevity noodles represents Chinese' wish for longevity. The length and preparation of longevity noodles are the symbolic of eater's life. Longevity noodles are longer than normal noodles, usually fried or boiled and served in the bowl.[9]

Money gift and Money treeEdit

Chinese will give children money gifts as lunar new year gift on Chinese New Year's Eve. They usually put money in red pockets and hide under their children's pillows. In ancient time, Chinese money is the round copper coin with a square hole in the middle. adults will thread the coins with colourful thread to make a shape of dragon and then they will put the money beside their children's beds while their children are asleep. this customs, which is very similar to Christmas gifts in west.

A money tree is a legendary tree which will shed coins when shaken. On Chinese New Year's Eve, Chinese will cut some pine branches and put the branches in vase. Then they will tie copper coins, shoe-shaped gold or silver and pomegranate flowers to the tree, which is very similar to Christmas tree in western countries.[8]

Similar traditions in other part of Asia Edit

PhilippinesEdit

Chinese New Year's Eve in Philippines is called Bisperas ng Bagong Taon in Tagalog. On Chinese New Year's Eve, all doors including cupboards, drawers, cabinets, windows must be left wide open to allow good luck to enter. Chinese Filipinos do not eat fish and chicken on Chinese New Year's Eve as these animals scrounge for food and Chinese Filipinos do not want to scrounge for food in the upcoming year. They prepare twelve round fruits (oranges, grapes, clementines, cantaloupe etc.) on Chinese New Year's Eve and each fruit represents a month.[10]

TaboosEdit

On Chinese New Year's Eve, all cleaning tools such as brooms, brushes, dusters must be put away. Chinese people clean on Chinese New Year's Eve as they believe that if they do sweep or dust on New Year's Day, their good fortune will be swept away. The cleaning begins at the door, the dust and rubbish are swept to the middle of the room, then placed in the corners and not taken until the fifth day.[citation needed]

During the new year period, the use of scissors, knives, and other sharp objects is avoided. The thinking is that sharp objects will cut your stream of wealth and success for the whole year. All knives in the houses must be put away on Chinese New Year’s Eve.[citation needed]

The Chinese character for hair is the same first character in the word for prosper. This means washing or cutting it off is seen as washing your fortune away and dramatically reduces the chances of prosperity in the year ahead. To this end, the Chinese avoid having their hair cut until the second day of the new year when all festivities are concluded.[citation needed]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Lunar New Year's Eve in China". timeanddate.com. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Bin, Zhao (1998). "Popular family television and party ideology: the Spring Festival Eve happy gathering". Media, Culture & Society. 20 (1): 43–58. doi:10.1177/016344398020001004.
  3. ^ Lü, Buwei. "12". Lüshi Chunqiu (in Chinese). 命有司大儺,旁磔,出土牛,以送寒氣。
  4. ^ 田, 东江. "傩 戏". 《吕氏春秋·季冬纪》《后汉书·礼仪志》均有相应记载,前者云,届时“命有司大傩,旁磔,出土牛,以送寒气”。后者云:“先腊一日,大傩,谓之逐疫。”
  5. ^ "除夕守岁". Archived from the original on August 15, 2004. 据晋周处《〈周土记〉》载:除夕之夜,各相与赠送称曰馈岁:酒食相邀,称曰别岁:长幼聚欢,祝颂完备称曰分岁,大家终夜不眠,以待天明,称曰守岁。
  6. ^ 周, 处. 风土记 (in Chinese). Jin Dynasty. 蜀之风俗,晚岁相与馈问,谓之馈岁。酒食相邀为别岁。至除夕,达旦不眠,谓之守岁。
  7. ^ "Spring Festival Eve in China".
  8. ^ a b c d e Huang, S (1991). "Chinese traditional festivals". Journal of Popular Culture. 25 (3): 163–180. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.1991.1633111.x.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Chinese New Year 2015 Newcastle: Popular Chinese dishes eaten during the New Year's Eve Feast; The New Year's Eve feast plays an important part in Chinese New Year celebrations". Chronicle. 2015.
  10. ^ "New Year's Eve in the Philippines". TAGALOG LANG.

External linksEdit