Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year 2009: Year of Ox

I still have a little bit of Chinese genes in my blood from my mom, that's why I'm so excited to have lots of annual celebrations! LOL. Since it's related to some sort of family traditions, it actually has nothing to do with luxury nor wild party.

My on-line buddy from Scotland, Bill, sent me this article (which all quoted from yesterday's Scottish broadsheet newspaper The Herald, btw) and asked for a thought. He also said that Scotland has quite a large Chinese community, too. 

Well, the fact is there's a Chinatown in most of the urban population worldwide, isn't it?

What's the story with... The Chinese New Year?

Whatever you do, put all your brooms and brushes in the cupboard, open every window in your house and don't - just don't - wear anything black. It's the Chinese New Year and you don't want to take any chances, do you?

The new year celebrations, which begin on Monday, are surrounded by superstition. The beliefs around brooms and brushes come from the conviction that you should sweep away the bad luck of the old year and then put away the brushes so you don't accidentally sweep away any of the good luck of the new year.

The windows in your house should also be opened to allow the old year to escape, and you shouldn't wear black because it is the colour of bad luck. Look out your red clothes, though. Red symbolises fire and will frighten off the nasty spirits.

Like superstitions everywhere, some people believe all that, some don't, but there is no doubting the bonding importance of the festival to Chinese people all over the world. The festivities start on the first day of the lunar month and continue for 15 days. The first week is traditionally a time for visiting friends and family and on New Year's Eve people gather for a big meal, often containing djiaozi, a kind of steamed pudding, or nian gao, a sticky rice pudding. Then, as the old 12 months melt into the new 12 months, families go outside and let off firecrackers. Evil spirits don't like firecrackers.

The celebrations end on the fifteenth day with a lantern festival. Hanging from trees or houses, little globules of light, some painted with images from Chinese legends, float in the air. As their warmth fades, the new year really gets under way.

This year is the year of the Ox. Last year was the rat and next year will be the tiger. It is said the year in which you are born dictates your personality: Oxen are hard-working and patient, which is promising news considering the new President, Obama, was born in the year of the Ox.

Where did it start? Something like this: the Buddha called for all animals to join him. Only 12 turned up and to reward them Buddha honoured each one with a year of their own. The sequence is as follows: rat followed by ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 

No cat, you'll notice. The cat lost out because the rat didn't wake him up and sneaked off on his own. Which is typical rat behaviour. Dogs do well out of Chinese New Year, though: the second day of the celebrations is considered the birthday of all dogs and everyone is especially kind to them. Children do well, too. It is common for adults to give children red packets (note: red again) filled with money.

(the rest of the article just tails off telling people in Scotland where CNY celebrations will take place here). Hope this might be good enough for your blog!

Thanks for sharing
Bill! Honestly I didn't want to write a long posting for today, cos I'm sure I'm going to pretty much occupied with cleaning the house and preparing myself to say prayers at midnight. Oh, well. I'm gonna try to keep it simple.

On putting brooms and brushes in the cupboard, just like the article has mentioned, it's TRUE (as what my mom told me long time ago). That's why I have to clean the house a day before CNY. 

On picking RED as the IT color, I only know that RED symbolizes JOY/LUCK/HAPPINESS according to Chinese tradition. Never ask me if wearing BLACK on CNY will bring bad luck or not, cos I won't brave enough to give it a try! Seriously.

On the origin of CNY (the Buddha story), yes indeed. So I heard.

On big meal at family gathering and firecrackers, there aren't necessarily. We are supposed to gather at the oldest person's residence (of the family). If the host family are pretty wealth, they'll provide big meal. Otherwise, fewer main courses and cakes are serviced. No need to worry, the most important thing is everybody's happy for the day! 

Anyway the brown cakes on picture above (the one with red Chinese calligraphy on top) are one of the most common Chinese Cakes (we called it 'Kue Cina') for CNY.

On giving red pockets to children, I need to set something right. Terms of adults giving red pockets (they are called 'ang pao' in Chinese) to children is wrong, in my opinion. Adults who have married, that is, that allows to give red pockets; and not only limited to children, but to single adults as well. There's a myth saying that if single adults give red pockets, believe it or not, they'll get hard times finding their spouses. Basically 'giving red pockets' means sharing your wealth to others and generally, people who already get married are considered wealthy enough :P

It's about the spirit of giving anyway, you aren't obliged to. 

I guess that's all.

GONG XI FA CAI!  May the Year of Ox brings you joy, health and prosperity! --Devi Girsang

9 comments:

  1. Happy Year of the Ox Devi :) I hope you have a great year ahead!

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  2. Dev, happy chinese new year!! :)
    I bought new clothes, I cleaned my house, I cut my hair. I'm ready for my CNY dinner! I hope you have a great one yah

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  3. Thanks guys! Best wishes to both of you too ;)

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  4. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you too Dev.. I had a lot of pork from Saturday till Monday and of course some of the red pockets too :) heheh..

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  5. At first I thought, if I were Superman, a perfect secret identity would be "Clark Kent, Dentist," because you could save money on tooth X-rays. But then
    I thought, if a patient said, "How's my back tooth?" and you just looked at it with your X-ray vision and said, "Oh it's okay," then the patient would probably say, "Aren't you going to take an X-ray, stupid?" and you'd say, "Aw
    **** you, get outta here," and then he probably wouldn't even pay his bill.

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  6. devi angpao dong ;p gong xi fa cai lovely devi :)

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  7. @nacosu: thanks Sa! Gong Xi to you too! :)

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  8. telat dikit gpp ya dev...Gong Xi Fa Cai yahhhh....

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