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Culture Lesson: Chinese New Year!

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Read the following information on the Chinese New Year and then match the key words to their meanings below:

The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements and so the Chinese New Year period begins with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the New Year is celebrated with night-time lantern parades. This tradition can be traced back to 2000 BC when legend says the celebration of Chinese New Year relates to a monster known as Nian. Nian, which now also means 'Chinese New Year', would come out of hiding and eat people (especially children) on New Year's Day until he was conquered by an old man. Red is the traditional colour of the New Year because it scares away Nian. In celebration of the beating of Nian Chinese people started celebrating what is now their New Year.

Before New Year's day people make sure that their homes are clean and that all debts are paid and then people travel to be with their families on New Year's Day. Religious ceremonies are held honouring ancestors, gods and heaven & earth.

On New Year's Eve a banquet-style dinner is prepared where it is believed the spirits of ancestors join family members in celebrating the New Year. This meal is known as 'Surrounding the stove' and it includes dishes which are thought to bring good fortune. The meal symbolises family unity while honouring past and present generations. Houses are decorated in red and other bright and cheerful colours.

The New Year is also a time of rebirth:  all of creation is reborn on New Year's Day.

A traditional greeting over this period is "Gung hey fat choy" meaning "Wishing you prosperity and wealth".

Link: Culture Lesson 'Boston Chinatown'

  • Things, especially money, which are owed to other people:
  • To have successfully fought and beaten someone or something:
  • Relating to the moon:
  • Relating to the sun:
  • Luck or chance:
  • Represents something:
  • The people that you are descended from, especially many generations ago: