This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious or spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

February 10th begins the celebration of the Lunar New Year.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Context

Lunar or Chinese New Year is celebrated in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures. It changes dates from year to year because of the difference between the lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar used in the United States.

Significance

The most significant of the Chinese holidays, the Lunar New Year is also the beginning of a two week celebration called “Spring Festival.”  Spring Festival originated as the product of an agrarian Chinese society, symbolizing the living cycle of the planting season.  The Chinese New Year also marks a time to honor deities and ancestorsEach Chinese New Year is represented by 12 creatures of the Chinese Zodiac, 2013 being the Year of the Snake.  Countries that celebrate this holiday include Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns all over the world.

Each day of the Spring Festival (15 days) includes specific celebrations and traditions that vary from celebrating deities, lucky family gatherings, hope for the future, the Jade Emperor, and love.

The last day of the Spring Festival is the Lantern Festival that occurs on the first full moon of the Lunar New Year (February 24, 2013 this year).  This festival celebrates positive relationships between people, families, nature, and the higher beings, acknowledging that all of these things bring light to the year.  Thousands of colored lanterns decorate homes, businesses, and streets.  The lighted lanterns bring good fortune and families celebrate by eating glutinous rice balls and spending time together.

Rituals/Traditions

  1. Red envelopes full of money bring luck (for children, this is the most exciting part of the holiday)
  2. Gift exchanges among family and friends
  3. Fireworks (this tradition began as early as the Wei Dynasty (220-265 BC)
  4. Mandarin oranges – the most popular and abundant fruit during Chinese New Year – symbolizing luck or fortune
  5. Food eaten during celebrations carry symbolism – noodles (long life), sweets (colored red or black), taro cakes, bakkwa (salty-sweet dried meat), turnip cakes, dumplings (prosperity), leek (calculating), fish, Buddha’s delight (prosperity), melon seed (brings fertility)
  6. Open air markets and fairs sell flowers, toys, clothing for new years gifts and decorations
  7. Shou Sui is the New Year’s Eve family dinner when people stay up until midnight to celebrate the tradition of scaring the mythical beast called “Year” which is afraid of red color, fire, and loud sound.
Red decorations symbolize the luck of the new year!
Happy New Year!
Additional Resources

http://chinesefood.about.com/od/foodandchineseculture/tp/Chinese-New-Year-Calendar-2013.htm

http://www.chinesenewyears.info/chinese-new-year-activities.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year#Festivities

 

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