According to story and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year began with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian (Chinese: 年; pinyin: Nián). Nian usually come on the first day of the New Year to kill and feeds livestock, crops, and even the people of the villages, especially children.
To protect themselves, the villagers usually put food in front of their houses at the start of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the prepared food, it would not attack any more people.
One particular day people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood the weakness of beast, they know that the Nian was afraid of the red color.
Since then whenever the New Year was about to come, the villagers would display red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors.
People also make used firecrackers to frighten the Nian away. Since then on, Nian never appear to the villagers again.
Chinese New Year Clothing
The commonly worn clothe during the New Year festival are always in colour red and bright colors throughout the Chinese New Year because it was the believe that red could scare away bad spirits and evil fortune. Red is a color of good luck.
Chinese New Year Symbolism
As it is common to all culture Chinese culture inclusive, Chinese New Year incorporate elements that are of great symbolic of deeper meaning. The following are major symbols:
The red diamond-shaped fú characters, (literally “blessings, happiness”), are usually displayed on the entrances of Chinese houses and are usually hung upside down since the Chinese word 倒 (dào) “upside down”, is homophonous with 到 (dào) “arrive” in all varieties of Chinese. Therefore, it symbolizes the arrival of luck, happiness, and prosperity.
The predominant color used in New Year celebrations is red. Red is the emblem of joy, and this color also symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. On the Chinese opera stage, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes a great emperor.
Candies, cakes, decorations and many things associated with the New Year and its ceremonies are colored in red. The sound of the Chinese word for “red” ( 紅, hóng) is “hong”.
Chinese New Year Traditions
Red envelopes (hong bao) are given out to kids and unmarried adults. In the United States, it is common to place a new one dollar bill or coin into the envelope.
As kids run up and say “Gong Hey Fat Choy”, meaning Happy New Year, adults will give the child the red envelope with money. This is one saying that kids learn quickly!
Another tradition that I look forward to is…don’t clean your house on Chinese New Years Day. You will be sweeping out all of your good fortune.
So, put away the vacuum and other cleaning supplies, find an event happening in the Tucson community, and go enjoy the New Years, Chinese style.
Tucson Chinese New Year Events
January 31, 2014 – 7PM – Lotus Garden for a complete set dinner of traditional Chinese cuisine.
February 1, 2014 – 11AM to 3PM – Chinese New Year Festival at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center for fun activities for the entire family.
February 8, 2014 – 5PM to 7PM – Year of the Horse Dinner at La Paloma sponsored by the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center.