Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chinese New Year

Happy New Year
Last night we were invited to attend the festivities of a Chinese New Year. My husband is a plumber and he is doing work on the local New China restaurant and they invited he and myself to join them at their restaurant after hours for a New Year's Celebration. It was quite an honor to be in their presence. They had two huge tables full of food including crab legs, lobster, squid, eel, pork ribs, and lots of other stuff that I didn't know what was. It was a feast fit for a king. They were so gracious and kind to my husband and myself and welcomed us with open arms into their celebration. I was very humbled to attend. We were also given a token from them to celebrate prosperity for the coming year. They handed each of us a packet with a $20 bill inside. One for each of us. The meaning behind such a token, to carry money with you into the new year will make you prosperous throughout the year. What a night! Here are some customs of the Chinese New Year:
*The Chinese Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, and the liberal use of the color red. The purpose of the red packet is that the red color of the packet symbolizes good luck. The cash amount contained within is not important but is required to be of an even number as odd numbers are related to cash given during funerals.
*On the days before the New Year celebration, Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning, known as 'spring cleaning'. It is believed the cleaning sweeps away bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on New Year's Eve and the first day so that luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-panes a new coat of red paint.
*Firecrackers come individually or strung on a long string. They are cased in red paper, as red is auspicious. The loud popping noise created by the explosion is thought to scare away evil spirits.
Good Luck
*Opening windows and/or doors is considered to 'bring in' the good luck of the new year.
*Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
*Candy is eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom for good luck in the coming year.
Bad Luck
*Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in Cantonese.
*Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants" is a homophone for the word for "bitter" in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive as the word 'pants' in Cantonese could be a homophone for the word for "wealth".)
*A hair-cut is considered bad luck. The word "hair" is a homophone for the word for "prosperity". Thus "cutting hair" could be perceived as "cutting away your prosperity" in Cantonese.
*Washing of your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck.
*Sweeping the floor is considered bad luck, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year; in the same way that having a bath will wash away the good fortune.
*Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious as well.
*Buying books is bad luck because the word for "book" is a homonym to the word "lose".
*The eating of duck is thought to cause heavy misfortune.

7 comments, add yours here:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

*The eating of duck is thought to cause heavy misfortune.

Especially for the duck!

smiles, bee

Claire said...

Sounds like a great night!
But i had duck today, oops!
I think you where really lucky to be invited and i am glad you had such a great time.
Could you send your hubby over here to fix our living room radiator?

Vancouver mermaid/Montreal photographer said...

Buying shoes is bad luck?? What? Who ever said that? Oh wait a minute...they may be right. Ever since I started buying all these shoes, my money started dwindling.

Happy New Year,


Kara said...

that's cool :) Happy New Year!

Travis said...

Wow. I didn't know any of this. My company is heavily affected by the Chinese New Year celebrations. Our products are manufactured there, and we must adjust our shipping schedules to account for business shut down.

Thanks for the insight into this holiday.

Rebecca said...

Wow, that sounds AWESOME! Quite an experience.

dickiebo said...

Mentioning the food reminded me of my time in the Military Police in Hong Kong in the '50s. One Xmas, I went into a posh nightclub where a group of senior HK Police Officers and their wives/partners were enjoying a meal, best described as a banquet! One knew me and invited me to join them, which I did. Afterwards, they asked me what I thought of the meal and I replied suitably. Then they told me..........that what I had been eating was dog!!!! Hope you enjoyed yours!