In nearly every culture the beginning of a new year is the time of new beginnings. While much of the world celebrates New Year’s on January 1, many celebrate the Lunar New Year, often called the Chinese New Year. This year the Lunar New Year celebration began on February 3 and lasted about 15 days.

New Year’s Customs
During Chinese New Year people bring gifts of rice and flowers to their gods and bow down to them. But Christians do not bow down to these gods of stone, because they believe in a living God.

The Chinese people are very respectful. They try to visit their grandparents and other elderly people during the New Year holiday. Children kneel before older people as a sign of respect. They take a little gift for them, and usually the older people give the children some “lucky money” in a special red envelope used just for New Year. Their parents usually put a little money under their pillows, too.

There isn’t time to visit everyone they know, so they often send Chinese New Year greeting cards to those who live too far away to visit.

The Chinese people have many superstitions or beliefs that they observe. During Chinese New Year people try to avoid saying words such as die, for some people think it will bring death. They try not to fight or cry or do anything that will bring bad feelings to people. They are afraid it could bring bad luck.

On the first day of the Chinese New Year they do not sweep the floor or wash their clothes. They try to have all these things done before the holiday begins. Many people will not pour water out on this day, because they believe that they are pouring out the wealth of their home.

Some people avoid using scissors or knives on the first day of the Chinese New Year because they believe that this is unlucky. They do not want to break anything either, for they believe it could bring them bad luck.

Fireworks are a big part of the New Year celebrations. Sometimes people will light strings of firecrackers that seem to explode endlessly. The noise is so loud that you have to cover your ears. 

Dragon Dances
People like to watch dragon dances. The dragon is not a real animal. But some people believe that the dragon is a spirit of a god, and that it can bring good fortune. During Chinese New Year it is very common to see a dragon dancing down the street in a parade. The dragon is really made of people walking underneath the costume of a long dragon. Other people march alongside, beating drums and cymbals and making lots of noise.

Of course, Christians don’t worship dragons or believe in superstitions, but they enjoy many of the traditions of Chinese New Year. It is a good time to appreciate family ties and celebrate friendships. May the year 2011 be filled with many blessings for everyone.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
[Happy New Year!]