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January 2016 World Festival: Lunar New Year

World Festivals: Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year – Spring Festival

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year, also called Spring Festival, has more than 4,000 years of history. It is the most important annual event of the year.


Based on the Lunar Calendar

The date of Lunar New Year changes each year as it is based on the lunar calendar. While the western Gregorian calendar is based on the earth’s orbit around the sun, China and most Asian countries use the lunar calendar that is based on the moon’s orbit around the earth. Lunar New Year always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Other Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam also celebrate New Year using the lunar calendar.


Time for Family Reunion

Being one of the traditional festivals, it is the time for the whole families to reunite together which is similar to Christmas Day of the westerners.


The Longest Public Holiday

The festival lasts for 15 days from the 1st to 15th day of the first lunar month. In folklore, it starts even earlier, from the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month. Most employees will have seven days off, while students take one month semester break.


Lunar New Year History

It is unclear when the exact beginning of the New Year celebration in China is. Normally, it was said to start from the year end religious ceremony during the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC - 1122 BC). A few believe that it started from as early as Emperor Yao and Shun (~2300 BC). At the beginning, the date of celebration varied from mid-winter to early spring. With the maturity of the solar base calendar, Emperor Wu (157 BC - 87 BC) of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 BC), established the first day of the first lunar month as the beginning of the year.


Lunar New Year History

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Lunar New Year started with a story of a terrible mythical monster that preyed on villagers. The lion-like monster’s name was Nian which is also a Chinese word for “year”. The "Monster Nian" looks like an ox with a lion head and inhabits in the sea. At the night of New Year's Eve, the "Monster Nian" will come out to harm people, animals, and properties.

The story also includes a wise old man who counsels the villagers to ward off the evil Nian by making loud noises with drums and firecrackers and hanging red paper cutouts and scrolls on their doors. Because of some reasons, the Nian is scared of the red color. The villagers took the old man’s advice and the Nian was conquered. On the anniversary of the date, the Chinese recognized the “Passing of the Nian” known in Chinese as guo nian (过年), which is also synonymous with celebrating the New Year.


Source: http://www.chinesenewyears.info/chinese-new-year-history.php



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