This week marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebration. This is ideal for those looking to revive their celebratory mood since Christmas and New Year (January 1). The Lunar New Year festivities paints city Chinatowns with bright lanterns, lion dancers and red and gold illuminated street décor. (We will explain the reasons behind some of these colorful and joyous customs.) This year, those who celebrate this unique and decadent tradition will bless the Year of the Goat with good fortune. Good fortune, according to the Chinese, begins with the right numbers. A good number to start with is the lucky number "8".
So, why the obsession with the number "8"?
You might have seen the number "8" making various appreances on lucky draw prizes, Chinese restaurant menus, car licence plates and even mobile phone numbers. What is the reason behind its popularity among the Chinese?
We have heard creative guesses connecting the number "8" with the infinity sign and it symbolizes infinite wealth. Some say the figure "8" is perfectly symmetrical so it symbolizes perfect balance and thus, harmony.
What exactly is the right answer? The main reason is simply how the number 8 sounds like in Mandarin. "8" is pronounced "bā" (八) and sounds like the word for prosperity which is pronounced "fā" (发).
Why is Chinese New Year celebrated on a different date every year?
Chinese New Year follows the Chinese lunar calendar. The lunar calendar, as its name suggests, is based on astronomical observations of the sun's longitude and the moon's phases. Chinese New Year lands on the first day of the Chinese calendar and continues for 15 days, until the moon is full.
Why the loud fireworks?
Firework displays during the Lunar New Year stem from the tradition of lighting bamboo stalks on fire to ward off evil spirits like Nian, the evil dragon most commonly portrayed in the new year parades.
Why is the character “fu”(福) hung upside down?
Although this might not be too obvious to those who can't read Chinese characters, this is actually a clever word play to say that "Fú dào le" which means "luck or fortune has arrived".
Am I seeing red?
For the Chinese, red symbolizes fire, which traditionally was believed to prevent bad luck. On Chinese New Year, red is popular color of choice - people dress in red and give children “lucky” money in red envelopes (hongbaos) during Chinese New Year.
Taboos - Yay or Nay
• On New Year’s Day, no sweeping or dusting takes place in a Chinese home because this is believed to be sweeping away good fortune.
• Avoid washing your hair on the first day of Chinese New Year as it might wash away your good luck for the new year.
• Tofu, a traditionally very Chinese dish, is not served during Lunar New Year. It is considered unlucky to eat tofu because it is white and thus signifies death and misfortune.