Chinese New Year in Different Places
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is a festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year in Traditional Chinese calendar. It is the time of the year for families to be reunited, no matter where they live. Apart from China, it is celebrated in many other places, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam and many more countries. The first day of Chinese New Year begins between 21st January and 20th February, when the new moon appears.
The first day of Chinese New Year is on 5th February this year. But in most countries where Chinese New Year is celebrated, preparation begins a few days before. It is a tradition for people to clean the house thoroughly 3 days prior to the first day of Chinese New Year. It is believed that cleaning up will sweep away all ill-fortune and allow good luck to make its way in. Decorating windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets is another popular custom. Some families will buy red writing papers to create their own paper-cuttings. It not only acts as a family activity to strengthen the bond between family members, it is also a way for families to create fortune and wealth together. The evening before the first day of Chinese New Year is seen as a time for family members to gather for the annual reunion dinner. Although having it on the night before the first day is a tradition, the day for reunion dinner is more flexible in many countries. Apart from having dinner during Chinese New Year, food such as chocolates, dumplings, and traditional Chinese snacks will be displayed in boxes or cans so that friends and relatives can share them with each other during their gatherings.
People will also prepare red pockets (red envelopes, usually with their family name or patterns) with money and distribute them to family members and friends. Even though the Chinese tradition indicates that people who are married have to distribute red pockets, some bosses and seniors at work will also distribute them to show appreciation to their employees.
Some highlights of the different customs in different countries:
Singaporeans celebrate Chinese New Year with various festive activities. You can experience the most magical atmosphere of this festive season in Singapore’s Chinatown. With their annual street parade, firework show, and other cultural performances, your Chinese New Year experience in Singapore would be spectacular.
Despite the first three days of Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Mei – the fifteen day — is also a focus among Malaysians. Young women, who are not married would gather together on this day to throw tangerines into the sea to wish for having a good husband on this day. But now, this tradition has changed slightly – females will toss Mandarin oranges with their phone number written on it into the sea, and men in boats will row over to fish the oranges.
The main highlight is to fight for a spot in offering burning incenses with a bow in temples. People would start queuing the night before the first day of Chinese New Year to enter the temple. It is said that those who offer burning incenses with a dedicated heart will be protected and loved by the gods. Therefore, a lot of people will stand overnight, hoping to get a chance to offer burning incenses and pray sincerely to gods and get protected by them for this year.
Countries that are not in Asia
In countries such as Australia, even though Chinese New Year is not nationally celebrated, you can still get the experience by going to Chinatown. There will be lion dances and couplets everywhere, making people feel like they are at home even though they are away from their home countries.
In Chinese traditions, Chinese New Year is an important festival among many other festivals. Even though different countries may have slightly different ways to celebrate this festival, it retains its identity as an important festival that gathers families together.