All over the world the Chinese New Year will be celebrated by a billion people in China and millions also that right here in Southeast Asia. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam all have huge number of Chinese immigrants some which have been living there for over hundreds of years but have still kept their traditions like the Chinese New Year. In fact Thailand has the highest number of Chinese immigrants in the world.
This Spring Festival uses the centuries old Chinese Lunar calendar which began back in 2698 BC making it much older that the traditional calendar used in the modern world, which is based on the Roman calendar. Every year of the Chinese calendar is associated with an animal and this year, 2016, is the year of the Monkey. It is believed that the animal association began when Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on the Chinese New Year around 500 BC and only 12 animals met him, so he decided to name these 12 years animal after each year on a rotating basis. For every different animal there are also different fortunes and luck that you are said to be born under.
To celebrate the New Year year families come together and bring in the new year with lots of food, gifts, fireworks, loud noises and parades. Loud noises takes form in traditional form such as the banging of drums and fireworks. This is said to scare away evil spirits, in parades they also use dragons and lots of red colours as is represents fire used, along with drums and firecrackers, to ward the demon serpent Nian that was said to ravage villages in ancient China.
The new year runs in most places for 3 days and in these days homes are also cleaned to to bring in good fortune and offerings and prayers are made. Depending on how traditional or modern you are offerings can take many forms such as burning bank notes, giving red envelopes to family with money inside, lighting candles, and many more.
There are 3 major purposes of the Chinese New Year – to come together as a family, to bless in the New Year for good fortune and to celebrate the year you are leaving. Celebrations that take place outside of China focus more so on celebrations but in China you will find that more attention is paid to bring families together, and it is said that over the New Year in China, the biggest movement of people takes placesfor a holiday celebration in the world as hundreds of millions of Chinese people return from the cities that they work in back to their home villages. The country comes to a complete standstill and travel throughout the country is a nightmare with all train, buses, flights and roads becoming completely full and the country comes to a complete stop.
Even though the New Year is mainly celebrated over the 3 days, the preparations and celebrations can start weeks before and after. The New Year period itself the celebrations run as long as the 15th day of the new Lunar Year. The Chinese New Year ends up falling between the end of January and middle of February every year because of the Lunar cycle and the main 3 days of the Festival include Spring Festival Eve, the Spring Festival and New Year’s Day.