Boy is it my lucky week: two holidays = two lists of fun facts... Woo-hoo! I am jumping for joy at my desk right now. I enjoy collecting random bits of useless knowledge about traditional holidays and festivals. It's my secret weapon: when I'm at a party and suddenly find myself at a loss for words, I simply state one of my fun facts. If you get nervous about attending parties where you don't know a lot of people, I highly recommend memorizing a few interesting, yet completely pointless facts. The Chinese are very superstitious and there are lots of little things you should and should not do on and around the New Year. Did you know that to cry on New Year's Day is to cry all year long, so children are indulged and never spanked on Chinese New Year? Or that Chinese New Year is actually celebrated over a 15 day long period? To learn the politically correct name of Chinese New Year and much more,
- The politically correct term is now Lunar New Year, as opposed to Chinese New Year since many Asian cultures other than China's observe the lunar calendar.
- The Chinese year is based on the cycles of the moon. This is called a lunar schedule (hence the Lunar New Year).
- A complete cycle of the Chinese calendar takes 60 years.
- The Chinese calendar dates back to 2600 B.C. It is the oldest known calendar.
- 2007 is the Year of the Boar (pig).
- Red is considered a lucky color in China.
- At one time wedding dresses were red.
- The Chinese pay tribute to the Kitchen God at the end of a lunar year. The Kitchen God's mission is to inform the chief spirits of a family's behavior over the past year. A household burns a paper image of the Kitchen God, so that he may ascend to the Jade Emperor in the heavens. The Chinese include a paper horse to lift him on his journey, while the Vietnamese prefer a carp fish. Some families smear the lips of the Kitchen God with honey or sweet glutinous rice, to ensure he says sweet things about them.
- According to superstition you must clean your house thoroughly to sweep away misfortune and make way for good luck and fortune in the coming year. The old year and its spirits are banished by sweeping the floors before New Year's Day. (Don't sweep on New Year's Day itself - you'll sweep away the New Year fortune if you do.)
- The house should be decorated with paper cutouts of the words happiness, wealth and longevity.
- Shooting fireworks on New Year's Eve scares away the old year, and households open up windows and doors at midnight as exits for the old year.
- At New Year, special emphasis is placed on the symbology of different foods. Here are what a few foods symbolize:
Bamboo shoots = wealth
Black moss seaweed = wealth
Dried Bean Curd = happiness (note: fresh tofu is not served because the color white symbolizes death and misfortune in Chinese culture).
Chicken = happiness and marriage (especially when served with "dragon foods," such as lobster), family reunion (if served whole)
Eggs = fertility
Egg Rolls = wealth
Fish served whole = prosperity
Chinese garlic chives = everlasting, a long life
Lychee nuts = close family ties
Noodles = A long life
Oranges = wealth
Peanuts = a long life
Pomelo = abundance, prosperity, having children
Seeds = lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc. - having a large number of children
Tangerines = luck