It’s finally the eve of the Lunar New Year! While we prepare ourselves for the main event tomorrow, how many of these facts do we actually know about one of the world’s most celebrated festivities?
The longest-lasting fireworks display in the world
The Lunar New Year is celebrated by almost ¼ of the world’s population, with China being the largest population to date. It is thought that setting off fireworks at the stroke of midnight “scares off” evil spirits from the previous year and kick-starting the new one on a clean slate. The festival also sees the biggest annual fireworks usage globally; there isn’t a single hour in any other country that witnesses the lighting of fireworks at such a scale than in China – and they produce about 90% of the world’s fireworks!
It’s the only time to catch up with the family over lively and friendly banter
… well, sort of.
Those who are in their late twenties onwards and unattached would have prepared themselves for all the “when will you get married?”
interrogations questions from family members. Taobao, China’s largest online shopping website, even offers ‘rent-a-boyfriend’ services for single women in China to bring men of their choice back home for the festivities to appease their older relatives!
Cr: Asian Fusion Mag
Enjoying Lion & Dragon Dances
The Chinese lion and dragon are creatures that are associated with luck and prosperity. During Chinese New Year, Lion Dance troupes go from door-to-door around neighbourhoods performing dances to invite good fortune to people’s homes. In return, the residents will reward them with a red packet. The dance can range from a 3-minute performance to an elaborate 10-minute display of acrobatic feats depending on the amount awarded.
On the other hand, the Dragon Dance is usually a public performance since it requires a large number of Dragon dancers to hold up the dragon’s body (which can go up to over 200 feet long!) on poles, creating an illusion of a flying dragon in the air.
Adhering to Chinese New Year superstitions
Starting the new year on a good note is of utmost importance, which is why it comes as no surprise that there are a number of superstitions that the Chinese follow to ensure a smooth-sailing year ahead. The following are just a few prominent ones; how many of these do you actually follow?
- Avoid taking medicine during the first couple of days of Chinese New Year so that your year ahead isn’t plagued with illnesses
- Don’t sweep or take out garbage on the first day of Chinese New Year to avoid “sweeping away the luck and fortune” that come to your home
- Avoiding eating porridge for breakfast as porridge is seen as a sign of being ‘poor’ (since porridge is a common food for the poor in China)
- Don’t do the laundry on the first and second day of the Lunar New Year because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of the Water God (‘shui shen’ / 水神)
- You shouldn’t wash your hair on the first day of Chinese New Year or else you’d be ‘washing your fortune away’
Eating foods that are considered lucky
What’s a festival without some good ol’ feast fest! In Chinese culture, even the food that we eat during Chinese New Year has to have some sort of symbolism to them. Among the most popular (and important ones) to have are Nian Gao 年糕 or Glutinous Rice Cakes (to signify that one will prosper and reap better rewards in the new year), lucky fruits such as mandarin oranges and pomelos (symbolising fullness and wealth), and fish (which represents more savings to come in the following year).
Giving and receiving red packets or ‘angpao’
This is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated reasons why children LOVE Chinese New Year. Inside these crimson envelopes are ‘lucky money’ given to children by their elders, usually from people who are married or even those who have started to earn their way, and they get to spend it however they like. #bestgiftsever
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