Chinese New Year is celebrated worldwide to mark the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year and celebrations can last for about 15 days. The Chinese New Year for 2015 is on Thursday 19th February and marked the start of the ‘Year of the Goat’. More specifically the Year of the Wood Goat, the last Year of the Wood Goat was in 1956. Chinese New Year begins with the new moon and is the biggest festival on the Chinese calendar. As throughout the region, Thailand’s Chinese community celebrate this occasion in grand fashion. The Chinese community celebrates the Chinese New Year with parades, typical dances, traditional food and fireworks. For the celebration in Hua Hin the Mayor and administrative officials dress in ancient Chinese costumes. After the official opening all parades move a long Phechakasem Road to Chat Chai Market on Pechakaem Road then around the market back to Phonkingphet Park.
One of the most popular stories tells of the beast Nian who would attack villages at the start of the New Year, eating their crops and people. To appease Nian, the villagers would prepare food and place it at the doors of their homes. It is also believed that Nian feared the colour red and loud noises, which are now prominent symbols of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Red Envelopes Red envelopes, known as hong bao in Mandarin, are small packets filled with money that are given to young children by their elders. These red envelopes represent good luck, happiness and abundance. In some cases, it is also given to unmarried and unemployed adults to give them hope and encouragement.
The Chinese consider themselves as descendants of this mythical and majestic creature who represents prosperity, good luck and good fortune. The dance itself, dating back to the Han Dynasty, was believed to be a harvest tradition and brings about good health, prosperity and good luck.
With its loud explosions and bright lights, fireworks are believed to scare away evil and negative spirits. Fireworks have been an integral part of the Chinese New Year celebrations for many years, but because of the rising occurrence of accidents, many countries have banned the public use of fireworks. Instead, big displays are organized for the public to view.
Homes are thoroughly cleaned before the New Year in order to remove any traces of negativity and start over with a clean slate. The New Year is also a time for family to come together. Food is an integral part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, particularly on the Chinese New Year’s Eve. It is one of the most important family gatherings, and is often hosted by the most senior member of the family.
Food for Good Fortune
The foods that are prepared and served are often chosen because of how similar their names sound to things that are auspicious and good. For example, mandarin oranges are a popular fruit not only because it is in season but also because its name sounds close to the word that means “luck” or “fortune”. Chicken based dishes are also served in the belief that all families, no matter their social or economic standing, should be able to afford this meat. Fish dishes are also served, but usually left for last and often not eaten in its entirety. This is because the word “fish” sounds like “abundance”, and leaving some of it for the next day means that the family will receive abundant blessings in the coming year. Niangao or New Year cake is a glutinous rice delicacy that is traditionally most popular during this season because its consumption is considered to be good luck. Its name sounds like a phrase that implies one being prosperous year after year.
Modern Chinese New Year
While modern day China celebrates January 1st as the first day of the year, the traditional Lunar New Year is still very much observed as well as in countries with a large population of those with a Chinese heritage, including Thailand. These countries also consider this a major holiday, but not necessarily a public or official one. Celebrations of the Chinese New Year all over the world take its cue from the traditional Chinese customs and practices.
Year of the Goat
Chinese New Year 2015 will be the year of the goat. For people born in the year of the goat (1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003), 2015 is considered an auspicious year. “Goats” are said to like to be in groups. They are honest, intimate, and can be easily moved by the misfortune of others. Those born in the year of the ‘Wood Goat’, said to be amicable, gentle and compassionate.