Saturday, 1 February 2014

Fu Dao 福 到 2014

An inverted character "福 (fú)" is a sign of arriving blessings.
The Chinese characters 到 (arrive) and 倒 (upside-down) are both pronounced "dao". During the Chinese New Year festive period, the character 福 ("fu", literally meaning auspiciousness, blessing or happiness) is displayed inverted, so that fu dao ("reversed fu") also suggests luck or fortune has arrived.
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Chinese candy box

Hongbao 宏宝 Red Packets
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Niangao, Chinese New Year cake

related: Chinese New Year cakes & tidbits

Spring Festival

The first day of the first lunar month is regarded as the New Year of the Chinese – the Spring Festival. It is the most important and ceremonious traditional festival in China, just as Christmas Day to the westerners.

During the Spring Festival, every family is busy cleaning house in the hope of getting rid of defilements and preventing diseases. Also, they need to paste door-god, spring festival couplets, and the reversed Chinese character "福" (means blessing),and hang flags in the hope of praying for auspiciousness in the New Year.

On the New Year's Eve, every family enjoys a grand dinner, shoots off firecrackers, plays dragon dance and lion dance, and stays up late or all night. People will pay a New Year call to one another from the first day, and it is not until the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, namely, the Lantern Festival, that the Spring Festival is ended.

On the New Year's Eve, people work far away from home will manage to come back, regardless of long-distance travel, so the "Grand Dinner on New Year's Eve" is also called "Family Reunion Dinner". Whatever the financial condition is, every family will make the dinner the most sumptuous and ceremonious one in the year. Hostesses will fetch out foodstuffs prepared in early time and all family members will sit together and make dumplings in jollification. At twelve o'clock, when a new year drives off the old, every family will shoot off firecrackers to greet new days and send off old ones.

Following the New Year's Eve is the first day of the Spring Festival, a day for paying a New Year call (bainian), during which people will be busy in giving best wishes to one another by saying such auspicious phrases as "Happy New Year" and "May you be prosperous", etc. In New Year's days, elders will put some money in a red pocket (yasuiqian) and give it to children as a gift. It is believed that on New Year's Day attention should be paid to ensure not to break up anything, or else one will miss good fortunes in the whole year, and that sweeping the floor will sweep off wealth and drive away good luck.

Traditional food prepared for the Spring Festival varies with customs in different regions. However, those with auspicious names, meanings or shapes are favored, such as "New Year Cake" (niangao in Chinese, means "higher year", suggesting better fortune in the new year, and has the shape of gold and silver blocks), dumplings, the shape of which is similar to ingots, suggesting bringing in wealth and treasure, as well as fish symbolizing amassing fortunes.

According to history records, the Spring Festival derives from god and ancestor worships in the Shang dynasty. Nowadays, this superstitious meaning has faded away and is replaced with a symbol of unification, happiness and hope.

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Chinese New Year 2014 - The Year of Green Wood Horse

The first day of the 2014 Chinese New Year is on January 31, 2014 in China's time zone. This day is a new moon day, and is the first day of the first Chinese lunar month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar system. The exact new moon time is at 05:39 a.m. on 31-Jan-2014 in China's time zone. The Year 2014 is the 4711th Chinese year. The Chinese believe that the first king of China was the Yellow King (he was not the first emperor of China). The Yellow King became king in 2697 B.C., therefore China will enter the 4711th year on January 14, 2014. Also, the Chinese Year uses the cycle of 60 Stem-Branch counting systems and the Green Wood Horse is the 31st Stem-Branch in the cycle. Since (60 *78) + 31 = 4711, therefore 2014 is the Wooden Horse year, which is the 4711th Chinese Year.

2014 is the year of Horse. Some people say 2014 is a Green Horse or Wooden Horse year.
Horse is one of Chinese favorite animals. Horse provides people quick transportation before automobiles, so people can quickly reach their destinations. Horse even can help people to win the battle. Therefore Horse is a symbol of traveling, competition and victory. That's why Horse is connected to speedy success in China.

Horses like to compete with others. They pursuit for their freedom, passion and leadership. That implies that people will have busy schedule for their goals in the year of Horse. Horse hour of Chinese Horoscopes is from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. Sunshine generates lots of heat during the Horse hour. Therefore, horse is connected to heat, fire and red. Horses like the social activities, because horses like show off themselves. Since horse is a social animal and red is also connected to love, therefore. horse is treated as a Romantic Star in Chinese Horoscope.

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Chinese New Year 2014 - The Year of the Horse

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese year 4712 begins on Jan. 31, 2014. Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Those born in horse years are cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and good with their hands. RembrandtHarrison Ford,Aretha FranklinChopinSandra Day O'Connor, and President Theodore Roosevelt were born in the year of the horse.

At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.

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Chinese New Year 2014 Animal Horse

According to Chinese Solar Terms, the Beginning of Spring is the first solar term regarded as the start of a new year. So, years should be divided by this day. Now, Chinese New Year’s Day is commonly adopted as the division of two animal years.

Chinese New year 2014 of Horse Horoscope Signs are shown below with the years. You just have to choose your Birth year and see the result of animal you are

In Chinese Five Element theory, Horse is in the Fire group. Horse month is in the middle of summer. Horse is the strongest Fire animal in 12 zodiacs. 2014 is year of Wooden Horse. Wood can help Fire to burn. So Fire can last longer

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Celebrated on the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, this is the most important annual festival for the Chinese community. Each year is named after one of the 12 animals according to the Chinese Zodiac.Houses are cleaned and decorated to prepare for the big day.

Debts are settled, prayers and offerings are made. New clothes are bought and plenty of food are prepared. Family members from far come back for the gathering. New year cards are exchanged between friends and relatives. A reunion dinner for the family is held on the eve of the new year.Bad language and unpleasant topics are discouraged

There are lion dances and small fire works. Red paper showing Chinese characters of prosperity and wealth are pasted either in front or inside the house. Ang-Pow or red packet containing money is given out to children and elderly. Open house is practised for visiting relatives and friends with various ethnic races. The new year is lasted for fifteen days which the concentration is on the first three days. The celebration ends with theChap Goh Mei on the fifteenth day.

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Chinese New Year

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Hand-written Chinese New Year'spoetry pasted on the sides of doors leading to people's homes

Chinese New Year is the most important traditional Chinese holiday, celebrated on the first fifteen days of the year of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year".

The source of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland ChinaHong KongMacauTaiwanSingaporeThailandIndonesiaMalaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes

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The 15-Day Celebration of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year starts with the New moon on the first day of the first lunar month and ends on the Full moon 15 days later.

First day, zhengyue 1, ’Birthday of Chicken’
Second day, zhengyue 2, ‘Birthday of Dog’
Third day, zhengyue 3, ‘Birthday of Pig’
Fourth Day, zhengyue 4, ‘Birthday of Sheep’
Fifth day, zhengyue 5, ‘Birthday of Ox, Cattle’
SIx day, zhengyue 6, ‘Birthday of Horse’
Seventh day, zhengyue 7, ‘Birthday of Men’
Eighth day - The Completion Day
Ninth day
Tenth to the Twelfth Day
Thirteenth day
Forteenth day, The Lantern Decoration Day
Fifteenth day, Lantern Festival

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Day-by-Day Chinese New Year Celebrations

Day 1: celebrates the beginning of a year
People in Chinese usaully celebrates the Chinese new year for 16 days, from the Chinese new year's eve to the 15th day of Chinese new year - the lantern festival. The following is a detailed introduction of the day-by-day celebration of Chinese new year

Chinese New Year’s Eve, which falls on the last day of a year according to Chinese lunar calendar, is called "Chu Xi" in Chinese. Having a history of 2000 years or so, it is one of the most important festivals in China.

At Chinese New Year's Eve, families usually get together according to the traditional custom. People can drop their work and other things that bother them, and indulge themselves in beer and skittles. The northern part of China and southern part of China have different ways to celebrate this day; for example, people in the north eat dumplings at this eve while people in the south eat “Nian Gao” (meaning Year Cake). In the northern part of China, people will put a coin in one dumpling when making dumpling and the one who, by chance, eat this dumpling will have good luck in the coming year. The shape of a dumpling is like a gold ingot, and the pronunciation of Nian Gao in Chinese means “keeping promoting to a higher position”. Both of them are signs of good luck and happiness. However, there are also some customs they have in common. At that eve, all the members of the family gather to enjoy a reunion dinner. There is an essential dish on the table, namely, fish, because fish in Chinese means prosperous and harvest. It is a symbol of fortune and luck in the future year. In terms of the reunion dinner, there is a small regional difference: people in the north are used to having this dinner at home while people in the south like to have this dinner at a restaurant. So, tips: if you want to celebrate the Chinese New Year’s Eve in the southern part of China, make sure you make a reservation in a restaurant ahead of time; or every restaurant will be full.

The happiest moment is when elder members of the family give red envelopes to children as a Lunar New Year gift. Then, they will paste couplets of the Spring Festival, “Happiness” posters (sometimes they paste the poster up side down which means “the happiness is coming” in Chinese), New Year pictures and even some paper-cutting. After that, families will close the front door, until they welcome the God of Fortune in the morning of Chinese New Year.

During the whole night, all family members should stay up to watch in the New Year. Children like to go out and set off firecrackers. However, adults usually stay at home, chatting, playing cards, playing Mahjong and enjoying the reunion moments. Since 1982 when the CCTV New Year’s Gala was first broadcast four hours before the beginning of the New Year, watching the CCTV New Year’s Gala has become an important event in Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Customs to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve are much the same all over China. Nevertheless, there are some different and interesting customs in some regions. For example, instead of eating dumplings and New Year cakes, people in Sichuan enjoy hotpot, and Zhaoqin people usually have Zong Zi (traditional Chinese rice-pudding).

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Chinese New Years Customs

Yuan Tan, The Spring Festival, follows a lunar-solar calendar and occurs between mid-January and mid-February. People start preparing for it 22 days before and it lasts 15 days. Houses are cleaned, food is prepared, old clothes are thrown out and debts are settled in preparation. Homes are decorated with red banners, flowers, and good luck scrolls. People who keep a kitchen god smear his lips with honey or offer sticky rice cakes so that sweet remarks will be said when he returns to heaven. On New Year’s Day older people are wished long life, business people success, and young people fine marriages.

On New Year’s Eve a vegetarian dish made of ginkgo nuts, mushrooms, bean curd, and golden vegetables called Buddha’s feast is served. Wintermelon soup, roast cod or duck, sesame rice balls, and scallops with broccoli may be served. At midnight, drums, firecrackers, paper dragons, noise makers, red ribbons and banners are waved to drive away any evil spirits. On New Year’s Day a vegetarian meal is served with dumplings rolled with coins for good luck. During visiting over several days sweets are served in a lucky eight-sided dish. Watermelon seeds for male prowess, coconut for togetherness, candied melon for growth and health, candied lotus for birth of sons, tangerines for luck, peanuts for long life and oranges for sweetness and wealth. New Clothing is worn. Gifts are wrapped in red. Money is given in red envelopes called Hong Bao [Red Packet] and Lai See [Lucky] Lucky money is hung by shopkeepers for the Lion dance. The Lion Dance is used in the consecration of temples, at business openings, planting and harvest times, official celebrations, and religious rites. The music is a drum, gong, and cymbol. New Year’s cards are given. The end of the New Year is marked by the Festival of Lanterns which is a celebration with singing, dancing and lantern shows.

Taboos - Bathing and sweeping is not done on New Years Day so that good luck is not washed away. Sharp tools are avoided so luck will not be cut. White signifies death and misfortune and words pertaining to death are avoided. No black is worn or bad words spoken. Red envelopes are not opened in front of others.

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Chinese New Year ceremonies

The celebrations of Chinese New Year stretch over 15 days and begin with preparations of up to one month prior to the start of celebration.

One Month Before - On the 24th day of the 12th month of the Chinese lunar calendar is Xiao Guo Nian (meaning "Little New Year"), which is when the festivities begin. It is believed that on this day the household deities report to Yu Huang or "Jade Emperor", the supreme ruler of Heaven and Earth. Special food offerings are provided for Zao Jun ("Kitchen God") so that he may speak well of the family. Firecrackers are lit to bid farewell to the deities and spring-cleaning begins.

Spring-cleaning - The home is swept clean prior to the New Year celebrations and traditionally bamboo leaves are used in the belief that this would drive out evil spirits. It is the custom not to sweep on Lunar New Year's Day itself - lest good luck be swept away. Some even hide their brooms and sharp utensils like knives. Festive decorations and symbols such as pots of kumquat and flowers are put up to brighten up the home. Red scrolls and posters with auspicious sayings (chun lian or "spring couplets") are placed at the doorway. New clothes and an accompanying hairdo are mandatory during this period as well.

New Year's Eve - The family reunion dinner and ancestor worship are the two most important highlights of the celebrations on Chu Xi, the eve of the New Year. The New Year is traditionally ushered in at 11:00 pm but modern families, especially in Singapore, have adopted 12:00 am.

related: Chinese New Year taboos

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Lunar Festivities

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, is one of the most eagerly anticipated occasions each year. This is the biggest and most significant event of the Chinese community, and it is observed by Singaporeans from all walks of life

The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th day. Symbolically, new clothes are usually worn to signify the new year. It is also the tradition for every family to thoroughly clean their homes to “sweep away” any ill-fortune, making way for the arrival of good luck. Chinese New Year also brings people together, and is marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known simply as "new-year visits". The highlight for children and younger members of the family during these visits comes in little red packets, or “hong bao”, filled with money. Another significant tradition is the Reunion Dinner, which takes place on the Eve of Chinese New Year, and is an occasion for families to come together and eat.

During this time, the streets of the city come alive with the sounds of traditional music, the sights of hanging red lanterns and the tantalising smells wafting from the many night stalls set-up in various neighbourhoods throughout Singapore. 
One such precinct is Chinatown, which, with its stunning street light-ups, night markets and decorations, is the focal point for Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore. The best time to absorb the lively atmosphere that Chinatown has to offer is during the Chinatown Street Light Up. This is when lion dancers, fire eaters and female dance troupes grace Kreta Ayer Square with their mesmerising performances. Armed with giant paper fans and intricately patterned umbrellas, they will provide you with street entertainment that you are unlikely to forget.

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Chinatown lights up to usher in the Chinese Year of the Horse

Fireworks set off at 9pm during Chinatown Chinese New Year Light-Up and Opening Ceremony along New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street on Jan 11, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Chinatown came to life on Saturday, with the streets awashed in shades of gold and flanked by 176 horse-shaped lanterns to usher in the Chinese Year of the Horse.
Officiating the Chinatown Chinese New Year Light-Up and Opening Ceremony this year at New Bridge Road was President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
The creation of 55 master craftsmen, the production stretches some 280m within Chinatown and took 15,000 man hours to put together.
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