Last updated on May 17th, 2021 at 02:23 pm
My inner child is getting excited like I always do on Christmas Day. Why? Chinese New Year is coming up on February 19th!
When I first wrote about Chinese New Year in this blog- I focused largely on the vibrant festivities, seeing family, friends, and devouring delicious food. Now that a few years have passed, I am reflecting more on the real and deeper purpose of this festive yet important holiday- which is to honor our ancestors.
Spring Festival: A Brief History
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, has over 4 millenniums of history tracing back to the Shang Dynasty. At the time, China was a largely agricultural society, and the Spring Festival served to mark the end of winter and the beginning of Spring when the land would once again be rich for cultivation of crops. During that time, people would make sacrifices out of reverence to their deities and ancestors.
The Meaning of Chinese New Year Today
China’s geological settings are dramatically different today, thus the original meanings of the Spring Festival are not as meaningful or relatable now- but the reverence and respect for our ancestors is an ideal that continues to and will always remain a strong foundation in Chinese culture. This ideal is what makes the Chinese New Year holiday so important and dear to the Chinese.
Today, Chinese New Year is a time for family reunion. In celebration of the holiday, most businesses will close from New Year’s Eve to the 6th day of Chinese New Year. During this time, over 1 billion Chinese people- carrying luggages of gifts-are traveling, looking forward to spending precious time with family members and relatives. As I write this, several of my aunts and uncles are excitedly planning their travels to visit my dear grandparents in Taiwan and even in New York City. I can already picture the joy and anticipation on my grandparents’ faces!
A Popular Tradition
As mentioned before, the exchange of gifts is common. The customary gift is the Red Envelope (Hongbao) containing money, given to children and elderly family members.
The giving of Red Envelopes is a way for family members to express their blessings and loving wishes for good health and fortune. I have warm memories of this tradition as a child receiving red envelopes from my grandparents after a hearty family meal- they held my hand and wished me happiness and health, and success in school. Today, I send red envelopes to my grandparents to wish them good health, and also to express my gratitude to them for setting a strong foundation that enables me to lead a principled life.
Celebrating The Year of the Goat
2014 was the year of the horse. This year, we bid a fond farewell to the horse and welcome in – the Goat (Yang).
JR Language would like to wish a Happy Chinese New Year to all of our Chinese translators, our Chinese customers and clients to honor their culture. From them, we’ve learned so much about Chinese culture, which is central to the delivery of Chinese translations that helps our clients connect with their Chinese audience. Our ‘red envelope’ to all of them is continued success!