Chinese New Year

The 15th Day

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important traditional holiday in China and several other Asian countries. It is sometimes referred to as the Spring Festival, because in China it usually begins at the end of winter-the beginning of spring. Since ancient China used the lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year is often between the end of January and early February.

This is also the time where the zodiac animals change. Zodiacs are symbolic creatures which the Chinese used as almost logo's for the year, each had different meanings, and good and bad omens. For instance, the zodiac animal for 2013 is the snake, a symbol of the element fire, malevolence mystery, yet also divination and wealth.

At the time of Chinese New Year, the world is colored with red, and the sound of "新年快乐!" and "恭喜发财!" fill the streets. Sweet, sour, cooked or raw, food of all kindare found in the twists and turns of the Chinese New Year.

Some of the most popular and well known activities are:

  • The Dragon Dance
  • Red Packets
  • Fireworks and Firecrackers
  • Family dinners, coming back to hometowns or countries
  • Parades and Festivals
  • Cleaning of the house

2013: 25th of February

The last day of Chinese New Year has been placed on the 25th of February. This is the day of the Lantern Festival, or Yuanxiao, when adults and children alike will light traditional Chinese lanterns.

A certain food is also eaten that day, called 汤圆, a sweet and glutinous rice dumpling boiled in water. Families will leave candles outside to lead their dead kin home.

In South East Asia some will use it as a Valentines day, women will leave their number on mandarins and throw them in a river, and men will pick them up down stream, sweet means good, and sour means bad.

Some of the wonderful activites

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汤圆 The sweet rice dumplings (Tangyuan)

Tangyuan is traditionally eaten on the 15th day of Chinese New Year.

According to myth, there was once a maiden of honor called Yuanxiao, but she missed her parents so much, she was coming to the point of suicide. A minister of her problems told her what to do, to make as many Tangyuan as she could, to please the Chinese Gods on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. She made such exquisite Tangyuan, that the emperor let her see her parents again.

This is the reason why the 15th day is sometimes called Yuanxiao, and why Tangyuan is eaten on that particular day.

The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival, also known as Yuanxiao, is often celebrated on the last day of the Chinese New Year. There are many stories about it's origins.

One is about how a heavenly crane came down, and landed at a village. The villagers killed the crane, but angered the Jade Emperor in the process, and he promised he would send a storm of fire and burn the village to the ground. Fortunately, the Jade Emperors daughter felt pity, and told the villagers what the Jade Emperor was going to do. They decided that they would light lanterns, bonfires and crackers, so that they would trick the Emperors troops into thinking the village was already on fire. They succeeded in this act, as the troops were fooled and reported to the Jade Emperor that the village had already been destroyed. Happy and content, the Emperor did not burn the village down, and from then on, people have celebrated by lighting lanterns on the last day of Chinese New Year.

There are others of course, some to do with pleasing the gods with entertainment and joy, others with fallen warriors whose comrades named a festival after him. It is also linked to the story of Yuanxiao the maid of honor, and her Tangyuan story.