Bainbridge Island Chinese Connection - Chinese New Year Celebration 2009 Year of the Ox2009

Chinese New Year Customs

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday of the year, when far-flung families gather together on the first day of the first moon of the lunar calendar. The dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve is the premier annual family event, but all the festivities throughout the several days of the New Year are focused on relatives and friends. In China, it is known as Spring Festival. In the United States, Chinese New Year has become sufficiently significant, due to our large number of citizens of Chinese origin, that the U.S. Post Office honors the celebration with its own stamp.

The period around Chinese New Year is also the time of the largest human migration, when migrant workers in China, as well as overseas Chinese from across the globe, travel home to enjoy reunion dinners with their families on Chinese New Year’s Eve. More interurban trips are taken in China in this 40-day period than China’s total population.

Sweeping of the Grounds
Every corner of the house must be swept and cleaned before New Year’s Day. Cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year, and makes the house ready for good luck. Brooms and dustpans are put away on the first day of New Year, so there’s no danger of sweeping away the new luck. For the first three days, families take special care to avoid breaking any dishes or glassware, and they postpone putting the garbage out.

Spring Couplets
Short poems written on long strips of red paper are usually posted by each household or business on either side of their front door. The couplets express wishes for happiness and good fortune, abundant crops and long life, and a harmonious marriage with lots of children.

Lai-See Envelopes or Hong-Bao
Red packets are handed out to the younger generation by their elders, much in the same spirit as Christmas presents. The children and single young adults, before receiving their red packet, pay respect to the giver by clasping their hands together, bowing their heads, and saying "Kung hei fat choy!", meaning "Congratulations, and may you be prosperous!"

New Clothes
Purchasing new clothing and shoes in preparation for the New Year symbolizes a fresh start. Getting a haircut also signifies turning a new leaf.

Loud noises scare away the bad spirits of the old year, leaving behind a clean slate for the New Year’s good luck.

Certain dishes are associated with Chinese New Year. In northern China, it is customary to make dumplings, as they symbolize wealth because their shape is like an old Chinese gold nugget, used as money. In the South, it is customary to make a New Year's cake called Niangao, which literally means "increasingly prosperous year after year."

The Kitchen God Farewell
In the last days of the old year, a paper effigy of the Kitchen God is burned, speeding him to heaven to report to the Jade Emperor on the family’s behavior, both bad and good. Before sending him up in smoke, the Kitchen God is given a ritual farewell dinner of sugary foods and honey, the better to sweeten his tongue so that he reports only the good deeds, and not the transgressions.

Source:  Wikipedia


The 2009 Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is sponsored by:

Bainbridge Island Chinese Connection
Town & Country Markets
Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce
Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort
PHAROS interactive LLC
Bainbridge Downtown Association
...and our supporters:

John L. Scott Real Estate
Bainbridge Island