Celebrating Chinese New Year: A Rich Chinese Tradition
Jan 31, 2016 10:26PM
by Rene Ng (DOM, AP, L.Ac)
The month of February in 2016 brings special meaning to all Chinese people across the globe—whether in the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada or anywhere else in the world. Chinese New Year 2016 falls on February 8, ushering in the year of the Monkey. Welcoming this New Year bears significant importance in Chinese culture and brings with it over four thousand years of rich culture, history and superstition. 2016 is the 4,713th Chinese year.
The Lunar Calendar
Unlike the Western Eorld, which uses the solar calendar, the Chinese use a calendar, based on the moon, called the Lunar calendar. This calendar follows lunar cycles, or moon phases. Each Chinese month begins with a new moon and contains a full moon every 15 days. It is estimated that a new moon comes every 29 ½ days, so Chinese calendar months always have 29 or 30 days. Each month is named after particular natural characteristics and bears great significance towards planning of life events.
As food plays an essential part in sustaining a healthy life in Chinese culture and is used as preventative medicine, months are frequently named according to the special harvests that happen during that month. At the same time, some are named to indicate special energetic changes typical for those months. Here are some examples:
The First Month, known as Zhēngyuè (正月 Start Month), signifies the beginning of the New Year.
The Second Month, known as Xìngyuè (杏月 Apricot Month), signifies when apricots trees blossom. Apricots are commonly used to stop cough and wheezing.
The Third Month, known as Táoyuè (桃月 Peach Month), signifies when pear trees blossom. Pears are eaten to nourish the lungs, prevent lung problems, help build the immune system and prevent allergies.
The Tenth Month, known as Yángyuè (阳月 Yang Month), signifies when the Yang energy is believed to be especially strong.
In China, the lunar calendar is widely used to plan out life events such as getting married, moving, landing a new job, having a baby, making an investment or traveling, for instance. The Chinese believe that picking out the right day and month significantly increases the good fortune, success rate and positive returns for an event in question. Books that detail the significance of every single day of every month are published each year, and are used by families to make such determinations. Fortune tellers and Feng Shui speicalists are also hired to interpret these books to determine the best date for individual events.
The Spring Festival
Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and boasts over 4,000 years history. It is the most important annual event for Chinese people and a time for family reunions. The Spring Festival also marks the longest public holiday, as it is celebrated over 15 days. During this period, most commericial businesses are closed to allow employees to spend time with their families. This timeframe also presents with lots of superstition, as the Chinese believe that a good Spring festival will bring about good fortune for the rest of the Chinese year. Each day of the Spring Festival bears different significance. Take a look at the significance of each of this year’s 15 days of Spring Festival:
Fifth Day Before Chinese New Year: Worship the Food gods to give thanks for the past year and blessings for the new year
Fourth Day Before Chinese New Year: Comprehensive and thorough house cleaning to get rid of old junk
Second & Third Days Before Chinese New Year: Shopping for items for Spring Festival
Last Day Before Chinese New Year (Chinese New Year’s Eve): Decorating home and businesses with good luck posters; Family reunion dinners (this is the Chinese equivalent of Thanksgiving dinner); Public holidays officially begin
First Day of Chinese New Year: Setting off fireworks; Family get-togethers at the parents’ house; Eating large amounts of fish (signifying abundance) and noodles (signifying long life)
Second Day of Chinese New Year: Visiting relatives and family members; Worshipping the god of fortune; Married daughters return home to their parents; Praying to ancestors and gods for guidance and protection in the New Year
Third & Fourth Days of Chinese New Year: Visiting gravesites; remembering the dead
Fifth Day of Chinese New Year: Birthday of the god of fortune; Welcoming the god of
fortune into your home; Visiting friends and classmates; Businesses begin to re-open
Sixth Day of Chinese New Year: Visiting temples and places of worship; Going to fortune telling; Planning out the year based on the lunar calendar; Visiting friends
Seventh Day of Chinese New Year (“Day of Men,” 人日 rén rì): Celebrating the birth of all mankind
Eighth–Fourtheenth Days of Chinese New Year: Enjoying time with friends
Fifteenth Day of Chinese New Year: First full moon of the New Year; Known as the Lantern Festival (元宵節 yuán xiāo jié); Family reunion dinner; Eating special rice
dumplings resembling the shape of the moon; Lantern displays and festivals; Children carrying lanterns into the streets and to the temples
Chinese New Year: What Not to Do
As you can see, Chinese culture is steeped in superstition and folklore. Therefore, it is critical to the Chinese to start the New Year positively—in all aspects. They believe this increases or even ensures that they will have a year of goof fortune. The following examples are how they commonly achieve this aim:
Avoid breaking objects (indicates family and relationship breakups).
Avoid taking medicine (indicates being sick all year).
Avoid washing hair (indicates washing away wealth) until after the first three days of the New Year.
Avoid housecleaning (indicates washing away good luck) until after the first three days of the New Year.
Avoid sweeping (indicates washing away good luck) until after the first three days of the New Year.
Avoid crying (indicates misfortune).
Avoid lending or borrowing (indicates financial difficulties).
Avoid swearing (indicates anger and loss of peace).
Avoid mentioning death (indicates bad luck and even death).
Avoid having no money in pockets (indicates poverty and being poor).
Year of the Monkey: Health Outlook
In the Chinese horoscope, 2016 is the year of the Monkey. There are 12 animals in the Chinese horoscoope, and they come around every 12 years. People born in the years 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004 and 2016 have the monkey animal sign in Chinese horoscope. However, if you were born in January or February of that year, you will need to check the lunar calendar for that year to determine if you were born in the year of the Monkey or the Sheep (the animal year predating the Monkey).
People born in a year of the Monkey tend to be witty, smart and intelligent, with an outgoing and magnetic personality. Monkeys tend to be mischievous; they are masters of practical jokes and enjoy playing the majority of the time. They are also fast learners and crafty opportunists. Monkeys often exhibit various interests and need to be around people who can stimulate them.
So, in terms of health, what does the year of the Monkey have in store for people born during this year? Or, what if they were born under other animal signs?
1912, 1924, 1936,1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Rest regularly to avoid overwork and exhaustion. Prone to kidney issues, back pain, abdominal pain and issues with the urinary system.
1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Exercise and maintain a positive outlook. Prone to isues with the stomach, intestines and the digestive system.
1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Be wary of getting into an accident, as well as injuries to the four limbs. Prone to issues with liver and central nervous system. Be wary of excessive alcohol intake.
1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Watch out for head or face injuries. Prone to issues with the liver and central nervous system. Be wary of excessive alcohol intake.
1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Watch your diet. Prone to cardiovascular system issues resulting from poor nutrition and drink. Exercise regularly and consistently.
1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Be careful not to over-exercise and injure the body. Prone to arthritis, especially in the arms, legs and shoulders.
1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Be careful not to over-exercise and injure the body. Prone to issues with the muscles, tendons and bones, as well as the respiratory system.
1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Watch your diet and eat more vegetables. Prone to issues with the stomach, large intestine and digestive system.
1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Watch out for injuries to the arms and legs. Avoid dangerous sports and activities. Prone to issues with the central nervous system, liver and gall bladder.
1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005
Pay attention to the air quality of your surroundings. Prone to respiratory system issues of the lungs, nose, bronchial system and throat.
1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
Do more social and outdoor activities, abut avoid dangerous sports. Prone to injuries to arms, legs and bones.
1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
Prone to diabetes, diarrhea, bladder and neuralgic pain.
Finally, may the year of the Monkey bless you with an abundance of good health, good fortune, dreams coming true and plenty of wonderful, happy memories. Gung Hei Fat Choy!
Rene Ng, DOM, AP, L.Ac, is a board-certified, licensed Acupuncture Physician and Chinese Herbalist in Sarasota. In 2014, he was voted Sarasota’s “Favorite Acupuncture Physician” for a second year in a row and was also the area’s “Favorite Anti-Aging Practitioner.” For more information, call 941-773-5156 or email [email protected]