Year of the Red Fire Monkey
According (chinesenewyears.info) to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the “Year”. The “Year” looks like an ox with a lion head and inhabits in the sea. At the night of New Year’s Eve, the “Year” will come out to harm people, animals, and properties.
Later, people found that the “Year” fears the color red, fire, and loud sounds. Therefore, for self-protection, people formed the habit of posting red Dui Lian in front of their house as well as launching fireworks, and hanging lanterns at year end.
I know a lot of our Chinese friends are now busy preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year. In the Philippines, the event is on February 08, 2016, Monday. But how and what preparation do they do for the said event?
Below are the list of things they do before Chinese New Year:
Clean the house
Before the New Year comes, it is one of the Chinese New Year customs to clean the house from top to bottom to get rid off all the bad luck gathered in the previous year.
Red and gold banners with New Year messages of good luck decorate the entrances of houses as well as business establishments. And accordingly, you could decorate the entrance to your room, or put them up in the living room or near your main door.
On New Year’s Day, the families come together to celebrate and everything must be ready for this important fest. Food must be prepared ahead of time, as one of the popular Chinese New Year superstitions dictates that all knives must be put away.
The regular flower markets which on a normal day are buzzing with activity, really come to life a couple of weeks prior to Chinese New Year as everyone prepares for the big day. Everybody flocks to the markets to prepare gifts and decorate the house with the traditional “lucky plants”, these are some of the most popular:
- orange trees
- mandarin or kumquat trees
- lucky bamboos
- branches of cherry blossoms
- stalks of pussy willows
Paying respects to the Ancestors
The New Year Celebrations can only begin after paying respect to the ancestors.
On New Year’s Eve, people will go to the temples and pray for good fortune for the new year. They bring offerings of food and incense to please the spirits of the deceased so that they might bring good luck. They come to ask for a special favor perhaps, or just to appease the spirits if luck hasn’t been that great lately.
Even now-a-days people from all walks of life come to pay their respects, housewives, business tycoons, students, shop-keepers… you name it. It is not unusual to find the temples even in the big modern cities like Hong Kong or Shanghai bustling with activity right around this time.