How does the world celebrate the arrival of a new year? The time of the year may vary but the idea and message behind the celebrations does boil down to the same – filing your life with goodness and keeping evil, or even the shadow of it, at bay.
The Chinese have descended from one of the oldest civilizations of the world; hence, they have a lot of interesting legends associated with their culture. Their New Year celebrations, indeed, are no different. According to folklore, a mythical animal named Nian was known to attack the residents of the surrounding villages after waking up from a year-long slumber. Once, it so happened that Nian woke up and proceeded to attack the villagers but was startled by various sights and sounds like whip-cracking noises, red clothes hanging by and a burning candle that he witnessed in all of the villages.
This entire episode established that an illuminated environment, bright colours and festivities could keep this monster away, which in turn, paved way for a legacy to be set. With passing time, the superstitious part has been done away with, yet the Chinese have maintained the tradition of putting up lit lanterns as decorations on their houses to ward off evil. Now, we have an idea of how the Chinese Year is associated with the iconic red colour.
In addition to these bright crimson shaded lanterns, the first day of the New Year is also marked by the bursting of firecrackers. This too, symbolically, keeps the beast away from the households. However, that is not the only purpose of this spell-binding show of fireworks. The elegantly decorated houses are perfectly complemented by the lit up sky and prove to be an on-lookers’ delight.
The celebrations on this occasion are not just about decorations or fireworks, traditional family dinners also constitute a huge part of it. Being a primarily agrarian economy, the spring season marks the beginning of the planting phase, and this accounts for happy family unions. If you are lucky enough to be invited to one such family dinner, you will be amazed to see pretty red envelopes with money inside passing through hands. These are New Year gifts, besides chrysanthemum flowers, kumquat trees and others, that are passed by the elders to the young ones.
The festivities do extend even after dinner and you can choose to explore the various shades of this occasion by visiting the flower markets or theme parks. This is also the time when the ancestors are honoured and prayed to. If you are eager to know about your fortune, then there is an abundance of fortune tellers to choose from as well. Or perhaps, you can just join the Well-Wishing Festival to give your dreams an outlet.
With so much to observe and even more to experience, the Chinese New Year celebrations are an embodiment of prosperity and togetherness enriched with the refreshing colours of merriment.