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Chinese New Year 2012

2012 is the  Year of the Yang Water Dragon. From a Feng Shui viewpoint 2012, the year of the Yang Water Dragon, will bring many possibilities for good fortune. Water covers two thirds of the Earth and comprises 95% of our bodies. We cannot live without water. In Chinese element theory, water produces wood, which signifies growth and is the natural element of the dragon. The dragon governs east/southeast, wealth accumulation and the hours of 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. Associated with thunder, lightning and arousal, the Water Dragon personifies creativity at its best. Water Dragon Year occurs every 60 years. There have been Yang Water Dragons in 1952, 1892, 1832, 1772, 1712, 1652, 1592, etc. The future holds more Water Dragons in the years beyond 2012, in 2072, 2132, 2192, 2252, etc.

 

In 2012 the Yang Water Dragon Year starts on January 23rd and ends February 9, 2013. The high point of the year is the dragon moon, which is from May 20 to June 18 (new moon is May 20, full moon is June 4 and dragon moon is over June 18. June 19 begins the snake moon, which will set up the energy for the following year, 2013, year of the yin water snake.)

 

The dragon symbolizes potent and benevolent power. Dragons are ancient, majestic, wise, and intelligent, and Dragon years are considered particularly auspicious for new businesses, marriage and children. Dragon years are said to boost individual fortunes and the world economy. However, that all five of the Chinese Dragon years — Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water — tend to magnify both success and failure. The Year of the Fire Dragon (1917, 1976, and 2036) typically causes the most problems.

 

The Year of the Water Dragon (1992, 1952 and 2012) is noted for its calm, visionary intelligence, and balance of creativity and logic. Of all the Dragon years, the 2012 Water Dragon is most likely to bestow the Chinese Five Blessings of  harmony, virtue, riches, fulfillment and longevity.

 

You can check out Chinese New Year celebrations here:

http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/CNY/

http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/melbourne_details.php?id=5912

These should be terrific events!

Unfortunately, the ACT does not celebrate Chinese New Year as a discrete event but rolls it into a "Multicultural Festival" in which the true Chinese flavour of Chinese New Year is absent. See local newspapers for any announcements.


Chinese New Year traditionally starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later.  Gung fu demonstrations, fire crackers an lion and/or dragon dances are held on the first day. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.


The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to align with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a nineteen year cycle). This is the same as adding an extra day in a leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honour of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors.

The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, unites the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.

The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year's Eve with a dinner arranged for them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with the living, celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community. The communal feast is called "surrounding the stove" or weilu. It symbolizes family unity and honours the past and the present generations. As gung fu practitioners practising a legitimate, traditional style and system we honour our ancestors in direct lineage back to the founders at this time. As Yuen Kay San Wing Chun practitioners, we can honour Sifu Sum Num, Sijo Yuen Kay San, ancestors Fok Bo Cheung, Fung Siu Ching, Dai Fa Mien Kam and Wong Wah Bo. We can also honour the legendary founders, Leung Bo Cho, Yim Wing Chun, Yim Yee, Miu Shun and Ng Mui. Those of us who also practice Fung Ga Ku Lo Pin Sun Wing Chun can also honour the sifus and ancestors of that lineage. Back through Leung Jan to Wong Wah Bo and Leung Yee Tai.

The first day of the Lunar New Year is "the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth." Many abstain from eating meat on the first day of the new year because they believe that this will ensure them long and happy lives.

On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. Dog lovers will be happy to hear that they ought to be extra kind to dogs and feed them well on this day because it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs. Incidentally, Southern Chinese don’t eat dogs. Northerners do.

The third and fourth days are for the sons-in-law to pay respect to their parents-in-law.

The fifth day is called Po Woo. On that day people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth. No one visits families and friends on the fifth day because it will bring both parties bad luck.

On the sixth to the 10th day, the Chinese visit their relatives and friends freely. They also visit the temples to pray for good fortune and health.

The seventh day of the New Year is the day for farmers to display their produce. Farmers make a drink from seven types of vegetables to celebrate the occasion. The seventh day is also considered the birthday of human beings. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity and raw fish for success.

On the eighth day the people of Fujian have another family reunion dinner, and at midnight they pray to Tien Gong, the God of Heaven.

The ninth day is to make offerings to the Jade Emperor.

From the tenth to the twelfth days friends and relatives should be invited for dinner. Following these festivities, on the thirteenth day you should eat simple rice congee and mustard greens (choi sum) to cleanse your system.

The fourteenth day should be for preparations to celebrate the Lantern Festival, to be held on the fifteenth night.

Some traditional practices:
The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust-pans, and other cleaning equipment should be put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away. After New Year's Day, the floors may be swept. Beginning at the door, the dust and rubbish are swept to the middle of the parlour, then placed in the corners and not taken or thrown out until the fifth day. At no time should the rubbish in the corners be trampled upon. In sweeping, there is a superstition that if you sweep the dirt out over the threshold, you will sweep one of the family away. Also, to sweep the dust and dirt out of your house by the front entrance is to sweep away the good fortune of the family; it must always be swept inwards and then carried out, then no harm will follow. All dirt and rubbish must be taken out the back door.

Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to exit.

All debts had to paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who lends will be lending all the year. Back when tinder and flint were used, no one would lend them on this day or give a light to others.

Everyone should refrain from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. Negative terms and the word "four", which sounds like the word for death, are not to be uttered. Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo. References to the past year are also avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.

If you cry on New Year's day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.

On New Year's Day, we are not supposed to wash our hair because it would mean we would have washed away good luck for the New Year. Red clothing is preferred during this festive occasion. Red is considered a bright, happy colour, sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future. It is believed that appearance and attitude during New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. Children and unmarried friends, as well as close relatives are given lai see, little red envelopes with crisp one dollar bills inserted, for good fortune.

For those most superstitious, before leaving the house to call on others, a fortune telling book should be consulted to find the best time to leave the home and the direction which is most auspicious to head out.

The first person one meets and the first words heard are significant as to what the fortunes would be for the entire year. It is a lucky sign to see or hear songbirds or red-coloured birds or swallows.

It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.

It is believed we ought not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.

While many Chinese people today may not believe in these customs, they are still widely practiced. These traditions and customs are kept because most families realize that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.