Thursday, February 7, 2008

Meaning Of Chinese New Year

"Happy Chinese New Year!", to all my Chinese friends and readers.

Since I have been on a long, long vacation (I somehow would like to think of it as such...) from my usual blogging behaviour. I figured since today marks the beginning of a new calender for the Chinese - the first lunar month in the Chinese calender, it would be a great day indeed to begin a new chapter towards my personal blog - Nihal's Anything n Everything. So, let's look at what this special celebration is all about and what's the meaning of Chinese New Year.

If we understand the Chinese culture, we would realize that the Spring Festival is the oldest and notebly the most important, if one compares it to other Chinese holidays. It's also a time for families to reunite, feast together and to wish good fortune to everyone. Preparations for the celebrations as I am aware, can take place a month before the actual day of the celebrations. This is done to ensure that it would be a auspicious and smooth transition from the current year to the new. That explains why my Chinese neighbour threw out half his house out to the garbage ... nah, I'm just kidding. But seriously, this is what they do - houses are swept and cleaned, from top-to-bottom to ensure that they do not carry bad luck over to the new year.

And we're quite lucky here in Malaysia as we have a strong influence of their culture present in our country, feasting with family and friends a like, at open houses have become a norm. And to be frank sometimes their meals can be very elaborate at times, not that I'm complaining, but this is definitely something I look forward to, every year!

Traditionally the ancient Chinese believed that the years would be in a cyclical form - Twelve Animal Signs, each representing a specific year in their calender, that would repeat itself over and over again according to a pattern.

A popular Chinese folk methodolgy has it that all these 12 animals had a quarrel one day as they were deciding who would be the leader to head the calender, since they could not find a solution to this, God decided to hold a contest to see who would be the first to reach the opposite bank of the river.

As soon as the signal was given, all the twelve animals jumped in and dashed across. Just as the Ox was reaching the shore, unknowingly the Rat had cleverly jumped on his back and quickly hopped off to come out first in the race. And as usual knowing the Pig, he being a lazy creature, to say the least, ended up being last. So now you know why the Rat is named as the first in the animal cycle, followed by the Ox and lastly the Pig, representing the last year in that cycle. With the start of this years Chinese New Year celebrations, we will be entering the year of the Rat.

Since you already know that I fancy the mystic's behind Feng Shui and all, Chinese New Year is no different. Even meals that are prepared during their family eve dinner has to mean something, take for example - nian gao, a kind of pudding cake made out of sticky rice, eat this and its said to help people advance towards higher positions and better prosperity for that year, step at a time. That's not all - jiao zi dumplings, looks like the gold ingots that were used during the Ming Dynasty as money, so a bite of this, is said to bring you the promise of wealth and prosperity. Noodles, yes, this is a must, the longer the better. The long noodles represents long life for everyone at the table. Not bad for eating a couple of cakes, dumplings and noodles huh ... Eat and you will have everything!

Gong Xi Fa Chai to the entire Chinese community and to the rest, happy holidays!


Mariuca said...

Wow, that's like a really long blogging vakasi Nihal! ;) Anyway, welcome back and I hope you're enjoying ur CNY holiday. :):):)

NIHAL said...

Hi Marzie,

Ha ha ha, "Vakasi" ... you can say that again :)

Well, I can't really say that "I'm back", as what took me this long to come out with a new post, is still an issue. But at least I'm glad I still have a couple of great friends out there that care.

To be frank, I would never leave blogging, I've enjoyed the journey thus far, and I'm hoping that it will stay this way for a long-long time.

Now, how about that Lontong trip? :):):)

Emila Yusof said...

Hi Nihal! Great to see back! Lamanya cuti!

NIHAL said...

Hello there Emila,

It's so great to hear from you as well!

At times I would like to think that was what I had ... a long vacation, but you know lah, life has it's own plans for you.

On another note, "Happy Valentine's Day" !!!

Thanks dear :)

Bobby said...

Hi Nihal! It's been quite a while since I've seen your face out and about.

This is an interesting post (being that I'm an American and know little about this celebration). Anyway...

NIHAL said...

Hello Bobby,

Thanks for your visit, I really appreciate it. To be frank, I've really missed all my blogging friends for a good 5 months now :(

Talking about Chinese New Year, ya, it's kinda big here in Malaysia, even though the Chinese make up only 23% of the country's entire population. Shops are usually closed for a week, so basically the city becomes slightly easier to get into, otherwise its a nightmare.

Anyway, I admit I have not gone on my usual visits to all my friends sites but hope to do so in this coming weeks. So I'll see you soon, my dear friend.

Once again, thanks, Bobby :)