The Chinese New Year also known as the Spring Festival arrives on 10th February 2013. The year will be number 4711 in the Chinese calendar. This marks the start of the new year holiday which lasts for 15 days. The date of the Chinese New Year alters yearly as it is based on the lunar calendar. The Chinese New Year always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Other Asian countries including Korea, Japan and Vietnam also celebrate new year using the lunar calendar. According to Chinese astrology, the associated colour for water is black, so 2013 is the Year of the Black Water Snake. Chinese folklore considers that the Snake is a symbol of intelligence, gracefulness and materialism. Indeed, individuals born in the Year of the Snake are said to be destined to be influential, insightful, analytical and motivated in business.
According to legend, the Chinese New Year began with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian, which incidentally means a “year” in Chinese. To protect themselves, villagers left offerings of food out to satisfy the Nian. They eventually discovered that the beast feared the colour red which is why they hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. The present custom is for the adults to give children red envelopes containing money to symbolize wealth and prosperity in the coming year. Lanterns represent the brightness of Spring and (the return of the Light I would think) In dragon and lion dances, a group of dancers parade under elaborately decorated costumes to scare and chase away bad luck, ghosts and evil spirits.
The Chinese believe that the lion represents courage, stability and superiority. The dance has specific moves and gestures which combine art, history and kung fu moves. The dancers are usually martial arts practitioners.The lion’s head is made out of papier mache and the incessant twinkling of the lion’s eyelids and movement of the head and mouth are meant to amplify the animal’s vitality and longevity. The tail is like a witch’s besom as it sweeps away negativity and misfortune from the past year. The procession is accompanied by a fan bearer. This person represents a smiling person or ‘uncle’, who is the God of Smiles. This ritual illustrates how one should act with good humour and skill in business and life.
There is a mirror attached to the lion’s head as they (lunar) are believed to expel negative energy spirits. Any negative energy would be reflected backwards, and any evil spirit would be scared when confronted with its own appearance in the mirror so would vanish.
One horn is attached to the lion’s forehead.
The Lion Dance begins and culminates at a temple. The lions pay respect to the temple and its deities, but and also to the ancestors. The procession is an intention to bring joy to the spectators in the street. There is a dramatic climax called the “Cai Oing” or “Picking the Green” . The greens are vegetable leafs attached to string alongside a red envelope containing cash. The string is suspended above the door of a business, shop or home and the lion devours both symbolically. As the lion chews on the leaves, the music crescendoes like to the climax of a film. Then the lion leaps leaps up and spits the leaves out. In this action, the lion is believed to have symbolically given a blessing and spitting the leaves out denotes that there will be abundance of everything.
You can make your own decorations and banners to bring good financial and business luck.
- Cut bright red paper into small 5″ or 6″ diamond-shaped squares
- Use a black marker pen or paint, whichever you prefer
When they are dry you can hang them at your front door to welcome the Spring, good fortune and prosperity and attune to the frequency of the Chinese New Year ritual