Gung Hei Fat Choi!
posted 10-Feb-2019  ·  
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The start of Chinese New Year depends on the phases of the moon, or on a lunar or lunisolar calendar rather than on the Gregorian calendar. While the date changes yearly, it usually begins between January 21 and February 10.

The phrase “Happy New Year” in Chinese is “Gung Hei Fat Choi” or “May You Have Good Fortune.

On the stroke of midnight on the Chinese New Year, every door and window in a Chinese house is opened to allow the old year to go out.[

The color red holds a significant place in Chinese New Year celebrations. Specifically, people wear red clothes, they decorate poems on red paper, and they give children “lucky” money in red envelopes. For the Chinese, red symbolizes fire, which traditionally was believed to prevent bad luck.

An important part of the Chinese New Year is the chuen-hop, or the “tray of togetherness.” This usually consists of eight compartments that are filled with special and symbolic food items that are offered to guests. These foods include kumquats for health, coconuts for togetherness, peanuts for a long life, and the longan fruit for “many good sons.” Additionally, for the Chinese, the number 8 symbolizes good luck.

Instead of wrapped gifts that other nationalities give at their main holiday season, for Chinese New Year, children receive red envelopes full of money. The amount of money is usually an even number—but the amount cannot be divisible by four, because the number 4 means death.

Before the Chinese New Year, it is common for people to buy new clothes or receive new haircuts as a way to make a fresh start.

To prepare for Chinese New Year, people clean their houses and sweep floors to get rid of dirt, dust, and bad luck or huiqi, which are inauspicious “breaths” that have been collected over the old year. Cleaning also was meant to appease the gods who would come down to earth to make inspections.

Chinese hold their new year celebrations between the 21st of January and February 20th, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar; so although calendar years have a fixed start and end date, the Chinese New Year can be any of 31 different dates!

It is considered good luck to thoroughly clean the house for the festival, thus getting rid of any bad feelings. Failing to do so can bring dishonour and bad luck to the family rather than the good fortune that everyone would like.However, from New Year’s Day to February 5th, sweeping and throwing out the garbage are forbidden, lest you throw away the new year’s good luck.

Chinese families will usually fill their houses with red decorations as this is held to be a very lucky colour. The streets and public places may also be filled with red banners and signs at this time.

Most homes will include strips of red paper, known as “Chunlian”. These contain messages known as Spring Couplets and usually convey messages of good health and fortune. A typical decoration contains four Chinese characters in gold writing – these are known as “Hui Chun”.

It is a tradition for younger family members to receive gifts of cash from older relatives, rather than wrapped presents; the money is generally given in a red envelope, to reinforce the positive feeling. It is also common for employees to get such cash gifts as bonuses from their employers.

The Chinese expression for Happy New Year is “Xinnian Kuaile”, which is pronounced as “sshin-nyen kwhy-luh”. It is common for the Chinese to greet strangers as well as friends at this time, to pass on good luck and fortune for the year ahead.

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