Happy Chinese New Year

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Happy Chinese New Year, everybody! Today is the first day of the year of the Ox according to the farmers’ calendar.

The Rundkvist family is heavily secularised, to the extent that I have let slip almost all Western observances and have very vague ideas about the Chinese ones. So, to learn what this day is traditionally about, I turn as always to Wikipedia, and learn that I should:

  • Welcome the deities of the heavens and earth.

  • Not eat meat.
  • Not cook.
  • Visit the most senior members of my extended family.
  • Hire a lion dance troupe.
  • Give money to my kids.
  • Set off fire crackers.

Of these activities and abstentions, I find only the visit to family, the lion dance troupe and the fire crackers attractive. Sadly, I have no crackers and I can’t afford hiring dancers. But it so happens that I am spending the day at the house of the most senior member of my patrilineage, viz. my dad. So apparently I’m celebrating!

Comments

  1. #1 DianaGainer
    January 26, 2009

    Well, let me be the first (maybe?) to wish you: Gong xi fa cai! Unless you speak the southern variety of Chinese, in which it’s: Gung hei fat choi!

    And do be sure to put honey on the lips of the little household gods so they’ll be sure to report sweet things to the Emperor of heaven. And leave a little red card with your name on it at the house of anybody you visit who’s off visiting somebody else, so they’ll know you visited.

    Plus, you should read off the names of your male ancestors, at least (the female ones, too, if you know them) for the past 10 generations, to show them respect. Burn a little spirit money, so they’ll be able to pay for their necessities in the next life. You wouldn’t want them to do without, would you? If you can’t find any spirit money in your neck of the woods, probably some Monopoly money would do just as well. It’s the burning of it that sends it to the ancestors.

    Since you have no firecrackers handy, beat on some pot lids with spoons. It’s the noise that drives off the evil spirits, you see. I have this on the best authority — several Chinese friends and a course in Chinese folklore, given by the eminent authority, Professor Wolfram Eberhard, who lived in China for several years, during the last World War, and wrote several books on the topic of how to worship ancestors and celebrate Chinese folk festivals.

  2. #2 kai
    January 26, 2009

    Are the kids aware you should be giving them money? ;-)

  3. #3 Monica
    January 26, 2009

    Hmm… A lion dance troupe would be fun, but where do you find one? :-D

  4. #4 liltrix
    January 26, 2009

    don’t cut your hair (your maternal uncle will die) and ideal have fish… (but thats more a NYE deal) and don’t sweep or take out trash

  5. #5 Christina
    January 28, 2009

    Kung Hei Fat Choi! Going to China town to celebrate!

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