Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year, “chun chi” or the Spring Festival

is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar. Chun Chi symbolizes the beginning of the year, a signal to a fresh start in one’s life. It also heralds fresh hope for happiness and prosperity for humankind.

Based on the lunar cycle or the cycles of the moon, Chinese New Year falls somewhere between the last week of January and the first week of February. All Chinese consult the traditional Chinese calendar for the actual date of the New Year. The last month of the Chinese Calendar year is a time of preparation for one and all. It is a time to prepare oneself for the New Year ahead: materially, physically, mentally and spiritually. The significance of the Chinese New Year is not easily understood by the non-Chinese.

The gearing up for the festivities starts much before the actual date. One cannot imagine a similar enthusiasm or preparation for the English New Year. The Indian Diwali is a better comparison for there is an intense house-cleaning session that takes place before Chinese New Year too.

The spring cleaning : sau uk
Removing the old years’ dirt and dust is symbolic as well as practical. Much-neglected repairs and maintenance of the house is taken care of. Many choose to give the house a complete face lift with a new coat of paint. The material renovation signifies spiritual as well as social renewal. But more important, spring-cleaning gives a chance for a new beginning year after year. Shortcomings and disappointments of the old year are swept away and once again the heart is renewed with hope that the coming year will be a better one. Hence, nothing is left untouched as the house is swept from top to bottom.

Report of the Kitchen God
A week before New Year, the Kitchen God goes up to heaven to present an annual report about the activities of the household to the Jade Emperor. This censor of the “family behavior” is an important being and must be appeased with sticky sweet things so that his mouth is so smeared we will have only flattering and nice words dropping from it. It is only after this feast that the old picture of the kitchen God is burnt and he is sent on his way to Heaven. The kitchen god comes back from his journey.

No debts please
The entire emphasis being on renewal and hope for better fortune in the New Year, one would definitely not like to carry over the debts of the old year into the new. So, if one had borrowed or one has lent, it is a time to run around to pay back or to receive. You might find a good deed done to you suddenly from unexpected quarters New Year is a time to repay not only in cash but also in kind; so remember all the nice things done to you by many and for which you have not even said “Thank you”. Take the chance, say it now and get your debts cleared.

Food and More Food
Women seem to spend many hours and many days getting goodies ready for the Chinese New Year. Different types of sweets and cookies are made, of which the ‘maa faa’ remains the eternal favorite. Made up of maida, eggs and sugar, this is a staple fare for kuo nien for there is no new year without maa faa. New Year is one time Chinese seems to indulge their sweet tooth. New Year goodies include rose cookies, coconut sweets, sesame sweets, puffed rice and jaggery toffees etc.

In Calcutta, Chinese New Year cannot be divorced from Chinese sausages (laap cheong) and the fish and prawn wafers. Both the items can be made only during the winter for this is when the cold East wind (Pak Fung) brings out the aroma in the Chinese sausages and the fish and prawn wafers.

Tradition changes and nowadays few Chinese seriously spend days and days making all the traditional goodies at home. Most families now fall back on the market for new year goodies and there is little homemade goodies.download Salome download Cop Dog aka Marlowe

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One Response to Chinese New Year

  1. rangan datta says:

    My photos of Chinese New Year 2010 & 11, in Teritti Bazar & Achipur.

    http://www.rangan-datta.info/photo/thumbs.php?gallery=27

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