Friday, February 16, 2007

Xin Nian Kuai le - 新年快乐

...Guo Nian Hao - 过年好*

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve… well I should say Chinese New Year’s Eve or 除夕 Chu2Xi4 which mark the beginning of 春节 Chun1Jie2 (Spring Festival - yes it’s already spring here, didn’t you read my previous post!).

Beijing Municipalities have allowed for the second consecutive year fireworks within the 5th ring (after a 12-year ban), which announced a lot of noise. According to legend, in ancient China, the nian2 (年), a man-eating beast from the mountains, could silently infiltrate houses to prey on humans. The people later learned that the nian2 was sensitive to loud noises and the color red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the color red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Guo4 nian2 过年, which means to celebrate the New Year, literally means the passing of the nian2 beast. (source: wikipedia!!)

So Fireworks will be authorized all day and all night on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 (that’s 48 hours!) then only (!) from 7am to midnight until the 5th of March, day of the Lantern Festival which marks the end of the festivities.

Here are some Superstitions during the New Year period:
The following is a list of beliefs that vary according to dialect groups/individuals.

Good Luck

  • Opening windows and/or doors is considered to 'bring in' the good luck of the New Year.
  • Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the New Year.
  • Candy is eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.

Bad Luck
  • Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in Cantonese.
  • Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants" is a homophone for the word for "bitter" in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive as the word 'pants' in Cantonese could be a homophone for the word for "wealth".)
  • A hair-cut is considered bad luck. The word "hair" is a homophone for the word for "prosperity". Thus "cutting hair" could be perceived as "cutting away your prosperity" in Cantonese.
  • Sweeping the floor is considered bad luck, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year; in the same way that having a bath will wash away the good fortune.
  • Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious as well.
  • Buying books is bad luck, because it is a homonym to the word "lose".

* Happy New Year…. Couldn’t you have guessed!!.