Five Other Mini Festivals We Also Celebrate During Chinese New Year


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Five Other Mini Festivals We Also Celebrate During Chinese New Year
Image: Haiku Deck
Chinese New Year is just around the corner and excitement is in the air because we get a lot of money it’s the Year of the Dog!

As of this moment, many people around the world are preparing their homes for the New Year in hopes of bringing in more wealth and prosperity, but it is especially extravagant in places like Malaysia, Singapore and of course, the whole of China.

It is also the time to observe family traditions and abstain from actions that are taboo during this festive season.

One very unique thing about the Chinese New Year celebrations is that there are other mini festivals that are celebrated across the 15-day celebration period; there are literally festivals within one festival!

Here are some of those festivals that will be celebrated in the coming weeks:

#1 Spring Festival

Let the festivities begin!
When is it celebrated: The first day of Chinese New Year

The first day of Chinese New Year is widely observed across the globe and in some countries, the first two days would be a public holiday. During the early hours of the first day of the New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, families first set off some firecrackers before going out, in order to drive away evil spirits.

Later in the day, people would ‘Bai Nian (拜年, to wish one a Happy New Year)’. The oldest and most senior members will be visited to strengthen family ties.

This tradition goes way back to the Han Dynasty; around 206 BC to 220 AD. Children would get angpaus (YAY!) and so would unmarried young adults (after getting funny looks and being bombarded with questions on when they would get married *rolls eyes*).

Also, to bring fortune, Buddhists refrain from eating meat or killing animals on the first day of Chinese New Year.

#2 God of Wealth’s Birthday

Look, it's our best friend.
When is it celebrated: The second day of Chinese New Year

The second day of Chinese New Year is considered the official beginning of the new year, also known as Kai Nian (开年) as well as the God of Wealth’s birthday. During the day, shop owners, businessmen, and other people offer sacrifices to the God of Wealth, whom they welcomed on the eve of the New Year, in the hopes that they would gain a great amount of fortune in the coming year.

Traditionally, married daughters will go back to their parental homes with their husbands to pay respects to her parents and more angpaus would be given out on this day. The Chinese would also pray to their ancestors and all the gods on the second day.

Here you go, sweetie!
Somehow it is also considered a lucky day for the dogs, and the traditionalists would reward the furry friends with treats. Even the strays get treats too.

Day two is also a good day to visit friends and family because the following day is considered a bad day and that everyone should stay at home instead of socialising. Unfortunately, some people would have to go back to work on day three.

#3 Birthday of Men/The Day of Humans

You're getting old.
When is it celebrated: The seventh day of Chinese New Year

According to a legend, Nu Wa (女娲), a goddess who created the world, created certain animals on different days as she was lonesome and wanted company.

She then created human beings out of yellow clay on the seventh day after the creation of the world. With her divine power, those clay figurines came alive.

Where's my present?
Hence, the seventh day of the New Year is referred to as 'Ren Ri' (人日) - literally translated to ‘Human Day’, or most commonly known as the birthday of men.

Day 7 is regarded as the day that everyone grows one year older. Again, Buddhists do not eat meat and Chinese communities, predominantly in Southeast Asia, eat raw-fish salad to ensure prosperity.

#4 The Birthday of the Jade Emperor/ Hokkien New Year

The Jade Emperor's birthday bash.
When is it celebrated:
The ninth day of Chinese New Year

The eve of this festival is an especially beautiful one because of the extravagant offerings that would be laid out at night. It is the birthday of the Jade Emperor, who is the Supreme Deity of Taoism and according to Taoist legend, all the deities of heaven and earth celebrate this day.

The Jade Emperor’s birthday is considered extra important to the Hokkien Chinese who live in Malaysia and Singapore. Prayers are offered, and joss sticks are lit; sugarcane is regarded as a traditional offering to the deity.

The Hokkiens start their prayers at 11pm on the eve but preparations start well in advance. On this night, the Hokkiens set up a table draped in red tablecloth, full of food (usually a whole roasted pig with various sweet cakes and pastry) in which are to be served to the Jade Emperor.

One year older, Mr. Emperor.
Later that very same night, they would burn kim cua (folded pieces of gold paper) along with a pair of sugarcane stalks as offerings. Firecrackers would be played in the late hours of the eighth day of Chinese New Year till before dawn of the ninth day.

Sometimes the frequency of firecrackers being played on this day would be more than the first day of CNY itself.

#5 Lantern Festival

Let it fly!
When is it celebrated: The fifteenth day of Chinese New Year

The last day of Chinese New Year is the equivalent of Valentine’s Day (even though there is another Chinese Valentine’s Day that is celebrated around August). Also known as Chap Goh Mei, the night would be bright and colourful as lanterns would be hung up everywhere and the night sky would be filled with fireworks again (Chinese New Year is literally a booming occasion). There would usually be cultural performances, and a celebration of the grandest scale.

Some people would walk the streets with their lanterns to bring peace and fortune. It is also customary to eat 'tang yuan' (汤圆).

The festival is associated with guiding lost and ill-bred spirits home, while celebrating and nurturing positive relationships between people, families, nature, and the higher beings as they are believed to bring and return the light each year.

Sorry, we got the wrong lantern.
Another legend connects the Lantern Festival with Taoism. It is the Taoist Ruler of Heaven’s birthday (Tian Guan). This God is responsible for good fortune who would bestow fortune and good luck.

It is said that Tian Guan likes all types of entertainment, so followers would usually prepare various kinds of activities during which they pray for good fortune.

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