春节 Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year Festivities

Chinese New Year Festivities

Chinese New Year is a momentous two week celebration in China and many other Asian countries.  Imagine the Christmas –er, I am being very politically incorrect. Let’s try again. Imagine the “Holiday” season in the States, and add a little ancestor homage, incense burning, pig roasting, lantern lighting, dragon dancing, and of course fireworks, and voila! You have Chinese New Year.

This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 10, 2013, and we will be entering the year of the snake 蛇 . The Chinese follow a lunisolar calender, and because of this, the Chinese New Year is sometimes referred to as the “Lunar New Year”.  On the seventh day of Chinese New Year, everyone grows one year older. This year, Taiwan will be transitioning into the 103 year, because Taiwan was founded in year 1911. Obviously, other parts of Asia will be going into a different year, however I am clueless as to what year they are going into. It’s all very confusing to me, so If anyone has any information, please share!

The other day I went to a Chinese Medicine doctor, and I had to fill out the date of birth column. I put in 1985 for my year, but was instructed I had to subtract 11 years in order to fit in with the Taiwan calendar.  So according to the Taiwanese calendar, I was born in 1974. This makes me feel old.

According to Chinese folklore, the Chinese New Year started with a fight against the mythical beast called the Nian 年. To make a long story short, this monster would wreak havoc every year on the first day of new year. To keep the Nian at bay, the people would leave food offerings on their front doors at the beginning of every year. They also believe that the color red scares away the Nian, henceforth all of the red lanterns and decorations they put outside their front doors.

Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve. I am looking forward to enjoying the festivities, and have decided to celebrate it traditionally. Well, at least try. There are 15 days of the Chinese New Year, and each one has it’s own traditions. For example, on the first day one is not allowed to use a knife, sweep, or light a fire. On the second day, is the day married daughters visit their birth parents (well, can’t do that one), and give treats to their dogs because here, the second day is the birth day of all dogs. It should be fun and exciting to experience the Chinese New Year traditions first hand.

So here goes!!

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Comments

  1. The Western calendar is indicated by the words 西元, which is the translation of AD. This year is 西元2013年. 月 means month and 日 means day. Since the Western calendar is used for day-to-day activities, 西元 is left off. The date is usually written year/month/day.

    1912 was year one of the Republic of China (ROC). The ROC year is calculated by taking the Western year and subtracting 1911. The characters that indicate ROC year are 中華民國 (meaning ROC; sometimes 民國 is used as an abbreviation). This year is 中華民國102年, meaning the 102th year of the Republic of China. The month and day are the same as the Western calendar. There’s a variety of places that the ROC year is used, mostly official paperwork.

    The Chinese calendar is indicated by the characters 農曆 (meaning “agricultural calendar”). The year has a name, not a number.

    This year, 2013年2月10日 = 中華民國102年2月10日 = 農曆1月1日, which roughly translates to 2013/2/10 = ROC 102/2/10/ = agricultural calendar 1/1. I’ve left out the Chinese calendar year to simplify things; typically, only the date matters because that determines the holidays.

    I hope this clears up the calendar confusion!

  2. I want you to come and visit me.

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