I have been to China and think it is a remarkable country, but my interest in Chinese traditions, especially the Chinese New Year, was sparked because of my love for my precious granddaughter, who was born in China.
The Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Unlike New Year celebrated in many other countries on the first of January, dates for the Chinese New Year vary year to year.
In 2012, the Chinese New Year was January 23. It started with the new moon on the first day of the new year and ended on the full moon fifteen days later.
It is the most important of the Chinese holidays. As it officially marks the end of the winter season, it is also known as the Spring Festival.
Families gather on the “Eve of the Passing Year” for a reunion and feast. Prior to gathering, the home is thoroughly cleaned. This represents getting rid of any ill fortune that might be in the home and make way for the incoming good that the new year might hold. Windows and doors have already been decorated with red paper cut outs declaring “good fortune,” “happiness,” “wealth,” or “longevity.” Firecrackers end the festivities of the evening.
On the morning of the Chinese New Year, children and unmarried adults are given money in red paper envelopes. Families exchange gifts as well, ranging from items used to celebrate the season, such as lanterns, to practical gifts such as laptops. Anything to do with Chinese calligraphy is also a popular gift.
The family gathering on New Year’s Eve honors both past and present generations. The Chinese celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community – the ancestors who have died and the family members who are living. Departed members of a family are greatly respected because of the foundation they have set for the family.
My observance of any holiday is seen through Christian eyes. I see the New Year as a reminder that God is a God of new beginning. Our spiritual houses should be kept clean at all times in order to be closer to Him. Every good thing is a gift from God. He encourages us to share with others what we have. As Christians, we make a seasonal observance of gift giving when we celebrate the birth of Christ. Those who have left a positive imprint on our lives should be remembered with gratitude. God promises we will be joined again with those in our earthly family who are also part of our eternal family.
There is one person I am determined to remember every day, not just on a holiday. He gave His life for mine. He saved me from my sin and made eternal life with Him and those who love Him possible.
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).