Most of the younger generation these days are not aware of why we do what we do during the annual Chinese New Year. There are a few things children should know about Chinese New Year. It is important that the kids know these things in order to maintain the Chinese tradition and authenticity of the yearly festival.
Chinese New Year Celebration
The celebration started centuries ago, it marks the beginning of a new lunar cycle. It is also called the Spring Festival because it falls between the December solstice and the March equinox. The Chinese calendar is assigned to a different animal every year.
According to a belief, Buddha promised all animals who pay him respect gifts. It is said that Buddha favoured and offered the only 12 animals who came to honour him one of the Chinese zodiac’s 12 years. People are said to possess particular characteristics from the animal of their respective birth year.
The cycle of signs repeat every 12 years. The Chinese calendar is apparently based on astronomical observations of the Sun’s longitude and the Moon’s phases. According to legend, the calendar was invented in 2637 BCE by Emperor Huang Di and is used to determine festivals.
Why We Give Ang Pow (Red Envelopes)
The red envelopes contain money and are usually given to children from parents, grandparents and to others as a Chinese New Year gift. The colour red is loved by Chinese people as the colour is perceived to symbolise happiness, energy and luck. Giving out ang pows is one way to send good wishes and luck.
The significance of the ang pow is not the money inside but the red paper. Wrapping money in red envelopes is believed to grant more blessings and joy to the receivers. Thus, it is extremely rude to open your ang pow in front of the person who gave it to you. The ang pow is also known to be a traditional gift for kids during the festival. It is believed that those who receive ang pow is wished a peaceful and safe year ahead.
Some important things children should remember when receiving ang pows:
- Always receive ang pows with both hands.
- Express thanks and greet the giver with an auspicious phrase.
- Never open your ang pow in front of the person who gave it to you.
Why Children Give Tea & Greet Parents
The eldest generation sits on the dominant chair in the living room on the first day of every Chinese New Year. The younger generation would then offer them sweet tea in a proper manner. The younger generation will receive ang pows and good wishes in return after the tea is sipped by the elders and well-wishes have been said.
Little sweet things like candied fruits and vegetables are added into the tea to make it a little special and different during this festive celebration. The tea ceremony is actually to glorify abundance and pray for prosperity. As long as tea can be afforded, it becomes the medium to make connections no matter the good or hard times.
There can be misunderstandings and resentments between individuals or generations, the tea ceremony serves as a ritual gesture to smooth chaps. The ceremony gives family an opportunity to offer tea with well-wishes to help form deeper connections between members. It is mainly for the younger generation to pay respects to their parents, grandparents or ancestors.
The Lion Dance & Firecrackers
The lion dance is a popular traditional Chinese dance performed on big occasions like Chinese New Year for good luck. This is because the lion is perceived as an auspicious animal by the Chinese people. The lion also symbolises power, wisdom and superiority in the Chinese culture.
People perform lion dances at festivals or occasions to bring good fortune and chase evil spirits away. The lion dance is a very important tradition during Chinese New Year as it brings prosperity and luck for the year. It is also one way to bring joy and create a festive atmosphere.
The firecrackers were initially used to scare evil spirits away in the Chinese culture as well. In this day, it is a major custom to light firecrackers and fireworks to celebrate the coming of a new year. It also serves as a way to boost the festive atmosphere.
It is essential that children are aware of their own tradition and make an effort to sustain it.
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