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CHINESE NEW YEAR Annika Hoover and Nick Pinder

PREFACE Annika Hoover is a sophomore at Indiana University studying Chinese Education. Nick Pinder is a freshman studying Spanish Education at Indiana University. This eBook is to be used in any classroom in order to develop awareness of other cultures. Learners examine, experience, and reflect on the relationships among the practices, products, and perspectives of the cultures studied.The focus of this eBook is the Chinese New Year so this book can be used in history classes, Chinese language and culture classes or any world culture classes.





The Legend of Nian


The Spring Festival is the largest and most important festival in China. It is the first day of the lunar calendar and usually occurs somewhere between January 30 and February 20, welcoming the beginning of spring, so it is known as Spring Festival. This traditional festival is also a festival of reunion; no matter how far away people are from their homes, they will try their best to get back to have the Reunion Dinner.

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People of Chinese decent and/ or people around the world appreciate the culture

Families, meaning everyone: Mom, Dad, Kids, Uncles, Grandparents, Second Cousins, everyone.

The Chinese meaning of this festival is Guo Nian (过年). Guo means "pass over" and Nian means "year." The origin of the Chinese New Year Festival can be traced back thousands of years through a continually evolving series of colorful legends and traditions. According to one of the most famous legends; in ancient China there lived a horned monster named Nian (年) who was extremely ferocious. Nian lived deep at the bottom of the sea all the year round and climbed up to the shore only on New Year's Eve to devour the cattle and kill people.

To celebrate: family, tradition, luck, and a good new year.

On the day of every New Year's Eve people from all villages would flee, bringing along the old and the young, to the remote mountains so as to avoid the calamity caused by the monster Nian. Then, one New Year's Eve, the people of Peach Blossom village were getting ready to hide when there came from outside the village an old beggar with a stick in his hand and a bag hanging upon his arm. His eyes twinkled like stars and his beard was silver. Seized with panic, the villagers were in a great hurry to run away. Some were closing the windows and locking the doors, some were packing, and others were 3

urging the cattle and driving the sheep. At a time when the people were shouting and the horses were neighing no one was in the mood to care for the beggar.

It turned out that the color red, flames, and explosions were what Nian feared the most. And when the door of the grandmother's house was thrown open and an old man in a red robe burst out laughing in the courtyard, the monster Nian was scared out of his wits and fled.

Only a grandmother living in the east end of the village gave the old man some food and advised him to flee to the mountains to avoid the monster. But the old man stroked his beard and said with a smile, "If you allow me to stay at your home for the night, I'm sure to drive away the monster Nian."

The next day was the 1st of the first lunar month. When people came back from their hideouts and found everything safe and sound, they were quite surprised. The old woman suddenly realized what had happened and told the villagers about the old beggar's promise.

The old woman was surprised to hear this. She looked at him unbelievingly only to find that, with white hair and ruddy complexion, the old man had a bearing out of the ordinary. She went on to persuade him to take flight. But he only smiled without reply. Thereupon the grandmother could not help but leave her home and flee to the mountains.

The villagers swarmed into the grandmother's house, only to find that the doors were covered with red paper, the embers from a pile of bamboo were still giving out exploding sounds in the courtyard, and a few candles were still glowing in the room‌

Around midnight the monster Nian rushed into the villages. He found the atmosphere was quite different from that of the previous year. The house of the grandmother in the east end of the village was brilliantly illuminated, with bright red paper stuck on the doors. Greatly shocked, the monster gave a strange loud cry.

The story was soon spread far and wide and everybody was talking about it. They concluded in the end that the old beggar was surely the being who came to get rid of the horror and bless the people, and that red paper, red cloth, red candles, and the exploding firecracker were certainly the magic weapons to drive out the monster Nian.

The monster Nian stared angrily at the house for a moment then, howling furiously, made a charge at it. As he approached the door, there suddenly came the sounds of explosions. Trembling all over, the monster dared not take a step forward.

To celebrate the arrival of such good luck, the elated villagers put on their clothes and new hats and went one after another to their relatives and friends to send their regards and congratulations. This was soon spread to the surrounding


villages, and people all got to know the way to drive away the monster Nian.

Question Excerpt 1. Who is Nian? A. A bearded man B. A man who liked the color red C. A horned monster D. A young orphan girl

From then on, on each New Year's Eve, each family sticks on their doors antithetical couplets written on red paper, blows up firecrackers, keeps their houses brilliantly illuminated and stays up late into the night. Early in the morning of the 1st of the first lunar month they go to their relatives and friends' homes to send their regards and congratulations. These customs have been passed down through the generations, making it the most ceremonious traditional festival of the Chinese people.

2. Where does the Spring Festival originate? A. Japan B. Europe C. China D. America

Click below to watch the Legend

3. Who helped the old beggar? A. A young girl B. A grandpa C. A grandma D. A monster


Answers: 1. C 2. C 3. C





and dancing, pictures, and traditional games. For an in depth list of the day-by-day list of what happens, click here .

� Traditions

Family Dinner How the Reunion Dinner typically goes

What exactly happens during Chinese new year? That is probably one of the most frequently asked questions about the Chinese new year. It’s almost hard to answer just because the holiday is celebrated so differently across the country; different regions in the countries have slight variations of the festival and every individual family can celebrate the festivities differently. This is comparable to Christmas in the western world; different countries have different ways of celebrating the holiday, and individual families celebrate christmas differently too. There are however common characteristics to the chinese new year, just like there are to Christmas. Those common characteristics are: the family dinner, awe inspiring fireworks, shou sui, red colored envelopes with money inside them, New Years markets, traditional decoration, singing

The big family dinner is one of the most important parts of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Family members from all parts take off work and make it a mission of theirs to have dinner with the family, this dinner is considered very important and everyone does their best to attend. If a 8

member of the family is not able to be at the dinner, the family will set a spot for them anyway, symbolizing their attendance, but at a distance. This dinner is almost always celebrated on the Chinese New Years Eve. The food at the dinner tends to have some meaning behind it.

is supposed to have good luck for the rest of the year. Another example is fish, the Chinese word for fish is pronounced ‘yu’ which is attributed to the phrase ‘Surplus Year after Year’ so families have fish at the table so they can have luck with their food income. There are certain characteristics to this dinner that are almost universal across China, those characteristics being the food and the decorations.

Here is a home-video of a Reunion Dinner

Dinner has different attributes depending on the location in China, i.e. the North does dinner a bit different than the South does. One example of the differences between New Years Fireworks

The food at a typical dinner table during Chinese New Year is typically the same food eaten throughout the year, but there is an emphasis of luck put into it all. An example is that in northern China, some families will put a coin in a dumpling and whoever eats the coin with the dumpling in it 9

Northern Chinese New Year customs and Southern customs is: the northerners eat dumplings made of dough, while the southerners eat cakes made out of rice flour. For more information and examples of what some differences are between the north and south, visit this webpage , and for a list of recipes that can be made at home, visit this webpage.

and impressions that are left of people. Setting off fireworks is very important to the Chinese people, and is illustrated rather well in this National Public Radio article about smog affecting the fireworks celebrations of the new year.

Shou Sui

Shou Sui is the time after the New Years Eve dinner where the entire family catches up on their years and spends some quality time together. Shou Sui, as most other traditions practiced during the Chinese New Year, originates from the Legend of Nian. People would stay up as long as they could so that the monster Nian, also known as Sui, would not eat loved ones. This is still done today, and children stay up as long as they can on the night of New Years Eve so that their parents can live a long and healthy life; a popular custom. Read this to get some more information on Shou Sui.

Awe-inspiring Fireworks: To understand why the Chinese have such extravagant firework displays, an ancient legend is going to have to be told. A quick summary of the story goes as such: A long time ago, there was a monster named Nian and he ate people and terrorized a town two times a month, based off the lunar calendar. A man in the village decided to take action and organized the townspeople to ward off the beast by lighting fireworks, banging drums and making large noise. The methods the townspeople took worked and they eventually became a tradition for all of China. To read the story told by the Chinese government themselves click here, there are some mistranslations on the website, but this is the ‘official’ story; for another version, click here.

Money Filled, Red Envelops Also known as Red Packets, this is a tradition in which older members of the family give red envelopes, known as Hang bao, to the children. These red envelopes are always typically filled with money, ranging in amount depending on the wealth of the family. The reason the envelops are red is because red is considered the lucky color of the New Year.

The fireworks are set off at midnight on New Years day, right after families are finishing their very important family dinners. The fireworks are almost as important as the family dinner, but not in a serious sense. The fireworks displays for New Years celebrations are important because of their size 10

Instead of gift giving during the New Years time, red, money filled envelopes are given. For more information on the red envelops, visit this webpage.

New Years Markets When the New Year is getting close, many Chinese people decide to go out and shop. They shop for many reasons: to buy food for the big family dinners that are going to happen, buying decorations for the house, buying new clothes because it’s a new year, buying fireworks so the family can light them off and have a good time, buying more decorations to really give one’s house that New Years vibe. etc. There are many reasons why a person would go out and shop during the New Years, and the smart vendors know this. So during the New Years time and the weeks leading up to the New Years, there are a bunch of city markets and stalls that open up so that people can go out and buy their fresh produce, fish, meat, fireworks, decorations, etcetera. Here is a photo of a market in Shanghai that has prepared for the New Years by stocking up on red lanterns; and here is a photo of a flower stand in Hong Kong during the New Years. The markets really prepare themselves for the massive amounts of shopping that will happen. Think about it, China is


Singing and Dancing

Here is a clip of Jackie Chan performing

The New Year is a time for food, family, smiles, and entertainment. Every year in China since the 1980’s CCTV, China Central Television the large state run media source, broadcasts a very long showing of the Chinese New Year Gala. This Gala is a long event televised on New Years Eve and shows many acts, such as: singing and dancing acts, comedy skits, and a countdown to the new year. The Gala is a tradition that brings in an enormous amount of viewers every year. This most recent Chinese New Years over 700 million people tuned in to the CCTV broadcasting of the New Years Gala, which is about seven times more people who tuned into the 2014 Super Bowl. The Gala has been considered to be a bit outdated however, says Chinese natives and many people fall asleep during the broadcast. Here are some clips from the New Years Gala 2014, routine, For additional information on the Chinese New Year, click here.

This is a clip of a singing performance


Pictures: Chinese New Year Market:


Dragon being paraded



Traditional Games

Question Excerpt

One game played particularly during the Chinese new year is a game called Mahjong (éşťĺ°‡). This game is played

1. The Chinese New Year is celebrated the exact same no matter what country you celebrate it in.

throughout the year, but when the New Year season comes along this game becomes more popular to play. Mahjong is played with either 136 or 144 tiles and is a similar to a combination of Dominos and Solitaire but not exactly the same. This game takes a longer amount of time, like Monopoly or Risk would take. For additional information on how to play Mahjong, visit here.

A. True B. False

2. Which is not a tradition of the Chinese New Year? A. Reunion dinner B. Amazing fireworks C. Singing and dancing D. Eating hamburgers

3. What is a traditional game of the Chinese New Year? A. Solitaire B. Dominos C. Mahjong D. Monopoly


Answers: 1. B 2. B 3. C





reunion. Following by the reunion, people will normally visit relatives and friends, doing shopping, watch some traditional Chinese shows, launch some fireworks, and plan for the coming year. The celebration will sometimes be highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of heaven, earth, and other gods, as well as the family ancestors. In modern China, working professionals will normally have 7 days of holiday including weekend to celebrate.

� Time of the Spring Festival The Chinese New Year is the most important of the holidays for Chinese. It is defined to be the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. Unlike the Christian New Year which is based on a solar calendar, the Chinese New Year is based on a traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. A lunar month is around 2 days shorter than a solar month. In order to "catch up"V with the solar calendar, an extra month is inserted every few years. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. Normally, the celebration will start from the New Year's Eve and will last for around 15 days until the mid of the first month. Before the celebration, people will normally do a complete cleaning of the house and put on the traditional New Year decoration. New Year's Eve is the time for family 17

Question Excerpt 1. When is the Spring Festival? A. Between the end of January and beginning of February B. April 1st C. First day of the first month of the solar calendar D. January 1st

2. How much shorter is the solar calendar to the lunar calendar? A. 6 days B. 2 days C. 1 day D. 8 days

3. How long does the celebration last? A. 2 weeks B. 5 days C.15 days D. 2 days


Answers: 1. A 2. B 3. C





Vancouver, Canada

� International Chinese New Year Where is the Chinese New Year Celebrated? Since it is called the Chinese New Year, this festival is primarily celebrated in China, but a fact that is lesser known is that the Chinese New Year is celebrated in almost every major city in the World. The three biggest Chinese New Year locations in China itself are in the big cities, like; Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tianjin, and Guangzhou and the three largest New Year festivals that happen outside of China are in: Vancouver, Canada; Singapore, Singapore; and Sydney, Australia.There are so many Chinese families living outside of China in major cities, so in any city with a major Chinese population, you can expect to find large Chinese New Year Festivals.

Vancouver is a major city in Canada located on the West Coast, and with any major city located on this coast in North America, a lot of the citizens are of Asian descent. Vancouver is home to many people of many different Asian ethnicities including: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. The Chinese New Year is also a time for these other Asian culture’s New Years, so Vancouver has many different culture events happening all around the same time, but Chinese New Year events do stand out a bit. 21

Every year there is a New Years parade going down the major streets of Vancouver, just how the Chinese would do it in China. There are big puppet dragon with people underneath it walking all throughout the street.

Singapore is a tiny island city-state located at the very bottom of the Malay peninsula in South-East Asia. Singapore is a city that very diverse, with many different peoples of many different backgrounds and ethnicities living there; that can be reflected by the official languages. The official languages of Singapore are: English, Mandarin Chinese, Tamil and Malay. Since Mandarin Chinese is an official language, presumably there will be a significant Chinese population that lives in Singapore, and that is true because as of 2012 , 74.2% of the population has a Chinese background.

Another popular event in Vancouver during the Chinese New Year is going to the International Village Mall and seeing all the festivities. Every year there are performances, discount sales, traditional dance performances, and a lot of free activities for everyone to do. The Chinese New Year events celebrated in Vancouver, Canada is one of the biggest Chinese New Year events in North America. This celebration does a good job at. incorporating traditional Chinese customs into a Western, North American setting

Since there is such a large Chinese population in Singapore, the people of Singapore put a lot of effort into decorating their city. The festivities and activities that Singapore offers is almost as limitless as those of mainland China. The one custom that Singapore does that is different from China is the Chingay Parade. For more information on some of the activities that Singapore does to celebrate Chinese New Year, click here.

Singapore, Singapore

The Chingay Parade is a very popular and very vibrant parade that happens every year during the Chinese New Year. The 22

Sydney, Australia

Chingay Parade is credited with being the largest street parade in all of Asia. It is a parade that people of all ethnicities in Singapore have come to celebrate, not just the Chinese. People of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Eurasian, etc, backgrounds have come to create this large multicultural festivity. Aspects of all the previously mentioned ethnicities all came together to make the Chingay parade what it is today. Here’s a video of what the parade actually looks like. Sample of the Chingay Parade

Sydney, Australia is the largest city in Australia located some 4,500 miles from Hong Kong, China. Australia is a wealthy country located relatively near China, so many Chinese people emigrate to Australia to seek opportunities and better jobs. Sydney being the largest city of Australia would naturally have many people of Chinese descent living there. The Chinese New Year festival of Sydney is a decently large event that many residents, Chinese and non-Chinese, attend. 23

Question Excerpt

A highlight of the Chinese New Year in Sydney is parade. The parade has many floats and many acts walking throughout the streets of Sydney. It is quite a site. Here is a video of the highlights of the most recent Chinese New Year parade in Sydney, Australia.

1. Which city does not host one of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations? A. Vancouver, Canada B. Singapore, Singapore C. Sydney, Australia D. Indianapolis, Indiana

2. The Spring Festival originated in_______. A. China B. Japan C. Mongolia D. Thailand


Answers: 1. D. 2. A.


Chinese New Year  
Chinese New Year