Category Archives: New Year

Chinese New Year – Memories, Calendar, Legend, and Traditions

Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 12, 2021. It is the year of Ox. The holiday was traditionally a time to honor household and heavenly deities and ancestors. It was also a time to bring the family together for feasting.

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Childhood Memories

When I was a kid, my favorite family time was Chinese New Year. We had one week off from school and my dad had five days off from work. On New Year’s Eve, Flower Markets took place in major parks. They were open from early evening to 5:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

One year, I went to the Flower Market with my older sister and her boyfriend. We lived in western side on the Hong Kong island, and took the tram to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. By the time we finished walking through the entire market, there was no tram in operation until morning. We followed the tram track and took one hour and thirty minutes to walk home.

Victoria Park Chinese New Year Market
Victoria Park, Causeway, Hong Kong

I was half asleep even though my feet were moving with one hand holding my sister’s and other hand holding something she bought me. I dropped the bag on the ground many times, bent down, picked it up and continued walking on autopilot.

By the time we got home, my mom had made special food as part of the Chinese New Year ritual. I liked sweet rice balls. We ate and went to sleep for a few hours. On New Year’s Day, everyone put on new clothing. Kids would say “Gung Hei Fat Choi” (Wishing you prosperous) to the parents and adults. My parents and the adults in the neighborhood gave us kids Lucky Money in red envelopes. It was the tradition for the married people to give Lucky Money to the kids and unmarried adults. We visited our relatives on the second, fourth, and fifth day. Kids loved that because we could keep all our Lucky Money. 

We anticipated with excitement on the 3rd day. There were three activities became our family tradition. In the morning we went to Tiger Balm Garden, which was a private mansion and garden that eventually became a public garden. After Tiger Balm Garden, we went to the Botanic Arboretum, and visited the Governor’s Garden, which was open to the public during Chinese New Year.

Being able to spend five holidays with my parents was the best thing for me as a kid.

Why Chinese New Year is on a different date each year?

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Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar. It functioned as a religious, dynastic, and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records show the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C. when the Shang Dynasty was in power.

A lunar calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases, with the new moon being the first of the month and full moon the middle of the month.

Each lunation is approximately ​29 1⁄2 days. The lunar calendar alternates between 29 and 30 days a month and an average of 354 days a year.

Leap Year

The Gregorian calendar has an average of 365.25 days a year, and therefore 365 days a year with 366 days in a leap year every four years.

Approximately every three years (7 times in 19 years), a leap month is added to the Chinese calendar. To determine when, we find the number of new moons between the 11th month in one year and the 11th month in the following year. A leap month is inserted if there are 13 New Moon from the start of the 11th month in the first year to the start of the 11th month in the next year.

Chinese New Year usually begins when the new moon occurs between January 21 and February 20, and it lasts about 15 days until the full moon arrives with the Festival of Lanterns.

The Legend of Chinese New Year celebration

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Lion Dance, Chinese New Year, Hong Kong

According to Chinese mythology, a Nian is a beast lived under the sea or in the mountains. It was unclear whether the Nian was an authentic folk mythology or a local oral tradition. Some sources cited it resembled a lion’s head with a dog’s body. Towards the end of winter, on Chinese New Year’s Eve, the Nian came out to feed on crops and sometime children. All the villagers hid from the beast. One year, an old man came to the village. On the New Year’s Eve, after the villagers escaped, he put red papers up and set off firecrackers to drive off the creature. The next day, the villagers came back to their town and saw that nothing was destroyed. They later found out the old man discovered the Nian was afraid of red and loud noises. It became the tradition the villagers celebrated the New Year wearing red clothes, hanging red lanterns, and red scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.

Chinese New Year Traditions and Symbols

New Clothes

The Chinese New Year is a time of change and new beginnings, wearing something new is a symbol of removing the old and welcoming the new. Red is the color for celebrating any happy occasion, as it represents prosperity and good luck.

Lucky Money Red Envelopes
The married people give the Lucky Money red envelopes to children or unmarried adults to bless them with good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance.

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Plum and Peach Blossoms

People decorate their homes with fruit blossoms to symbolize a plentiful crop in the new year. Peach blossoms symbolize long life, romance, and prosperity.

Fish

The homophone of the Chinese word ‘fish’ is the same as the word for ‘surplus’ inferring more than enough. By hanging up fish decorations or eat fish, people hope the New Year will bring wealth and prosperity.

Tangerines and Oranges

Both fruits symbolize abundant happiness. The homophone of ‘tangerine’ is the same for the word ‘luck’ and the homophone of ‘orange’ sounds the same as the word for ‘wealth’. When visiting family and friends, it is a custom to take a gift bag of oranges or tangerines.

Rice-cake — Progression or Promotion

Glutinous rice cake is a lucky food eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve. This is play on words to infer “getting higher year after year.” It can imply children’s height, rise in business success, better grades in study, or promotions at work.

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Rice Cake

Sweet Rice Balls — Family Togetherness

The homophone of ‘ball’ and round shape are associated with reunion and being together. They are favorite food during the New Year celebrations.

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I hope you enjoyed finding out something interesting!

Wishing you a

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year, My Friends!

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I enjoy reading quotes. I used to memorize them for encouragement and motivation. Lao Tzu is known for his wisdom and I believe our doing begins with our thinking.

Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu Quotes - Third Monk | Lao tzu  quotes, Watch your words, Karma quotes
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. - Lao Tzu

I read 100 best New Year’s quotes for 2021 and included 10 here.

1. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. “The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.” ―Josiyah Martin

3. “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” —J.P. Morgan

4. “New year—a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.” —Alex Morritt

5. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” —Thomas Jefferson

6. “Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.” ―Germany Kent

7. “As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind. Sometimes there are things in our lives that aren’t meant to stay. Sometimes the changes we don’t want are the changes we need to grow. And sometimes walking away is a step forward.” —Unknown

8. “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” —Francis Bacon Sr.

9. “This year, be structured enough for success and achievement and flexible enough for creativity and fun.”  —Taylor Duvall

10. “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” —Frank Scully

Our New Year’s tradition used to be watching the fireworks beginning at 15 minutes before 9:00 p.m. PST (12:00 a.m. EST) for the countdown in Times Square, New York, then watching the fireworks around the world. Many countries didn’t have fireworks this year. We watched the video clips of a few countries where they had fireworks. Here is a short BBC clip.

Wishing you a Happy first day of the best possible new 365 days of Year 2021!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107 – Winter

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107, Ann-Christine invited us to look at the difference in the winter when we compare the Northern Hemisphere with the Southern Hemisphere. 

The first time I saw snow was my first year in Portland, Oregon. It was in November. I walked along the hallway from one classroom to the next. My eyes glanced through the floor to ceiling window. A thin layer of white stuff drifting down in the air. I stopped and observed. Each layer above seemed to get thicker and whiter. I realized what happened and called out while jumping up and down, “It’s snowing. It’s snowing!” Some male students walked by and looked at me. Probably the last time they saw and heard of it was from their little kids.

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When I finished school in Portland, I went on to Seattle Pacific University for my second graduate study. The city welcomed me with seven inches of snow. When the snow came to a pause, I put on my knee high, custom made leather boots and my leather gloves to make the first snowman. The leather gloves got hard and stiff after they were dry. My boots were fine, probably they were made differently.

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Is winter warm or cold? I think winter is warm because it’s the time for events such as Christmas concert, Christmas light cruise, Christmas parties with family and friends, and my daughter’s birthday the day after Christmas.

One New Year, we visited my sister’s family in Vancouver B.C. We couldn’t go skiing in Whistler B.C. because the heavy fog came in. We managed going to a nearby mountain for my husband, niece, and nephew to do snowboarding.

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Back home in southern California, our chorale started rehearsing for the Messiah concert first week of November, leading to the two performances before Christmas. This is the highlight of the year for me.

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The adult fellowship group at church has many Christmas parties. One year we had a catering dinner at a deluxe retirement home. The chef built a gingerbread village every year. He made one gingerbread house at a time throughout the year and froze them. By early December, he assembled the village with a train track and an electrical train going around it.

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The last two years, we went on the Christmas Light Cruise and watched the Christmas Boat Parade.

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Two years ago was the first-time snow and Christmas met. My husband and I went to Portland, Oregon to spend the holiday with my daughter’s family. I saw snow before the plane landed and was so excited to have a white Christmas.

Most exciting of all during Christmas time is my daughter’s birthday on the day after Christmas. Here, Mercy opened the birthday card from her daughter Autumn.

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Is winter warm or cold in your part of the world? I would like to hear from you.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #107 – Winter

 

 

Happy New Year to You!

Happy New Year my friends!

 

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Did you watch the New Year count down last night? Many countries put on the stunning lights and fireworks shows. Hubby and I started watching from 10:00 p.m. until midnight and said Happy New Year to each other with hugs and kisses before going to bed.

 

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Hong Kong

This morning, we watched the Rose Parade on TV. The Rose Parade is held at Pasadena, California, 31 miles from our home. In order to get a prime spot to watch, some people camped out overnight. The parade traveled leisurely at 2.5 miles per hour for 5.5 miles from start to finish. There were forty Floats, twenty Marching Bands and seventeen Equestrian Units.

Floats – The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats has stayed true to its floral beginnings. Each inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. The most delicate flowers, including roses, are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.

 

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Marching Bands –  Hundreds of thousands of musicians from all over the world have made the famous march through Pasadena on New Year’s Day. The Rose Parade has welcomed high schools, colleges and universities, and Military bands.

 

Equestrian Units – Each year, the Rose Parade features a wide variety of horse breeds who entertain spectators, each with their own style and grace, including Curly Horses, American Saddlebreds, Gypsy Cobs, Andalusians, Miniature Horses, Draft Horses, and more. Equestrian units offer a variety of special skills and colorful costumes that tie into the Rose Parade theme.

 

Wishing you a wonderful year of 2020!

 

 

 

Happy Chinese New Year

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The Year of the Dog is officially here, and Friday marks the start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year. This year, the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, began on Friday, Feb. 16 and lasts through Sunday, Feb. 18.

The festival is centuries old, celebrating the new year according to the Chinese calendar. Each year is associated with a different animal, and 2018 is the Year of the Dog. The dog is one of 12 animals associated with the Chinese New Year and is signifies loyalty.

Most Chinese New Year celebrations involve firework displays, family feasts, visiting temples, and paying respects to one’s ancestors. It’s also a chance for people to prepare for good fortune in the upcoming years.

Wishing You Prosperous!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Growth in Relationship

This is the 4th day into the new year of 2018. It’s an open book. What memories do I want to fill into this book?

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I do not know about tomorrow. I face each single day with my mind open to learn, my heart open to love and accept, and my hands open to give and receive.

With that mindset, I pray for growth as an individual, as husband and wife, as well as a family. I pray that my husband and I will grow deeper in loving and caring for each other, learn to be considerate and thoughtful parents and grandparents.

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As for Mercy and Will, I pray that they grow in their love, respect and admiration to each other. Every day brings new learning and new joy as parents with their precious baby Autumn. Autumn is now 3 months and 1 week old. She found her fingers and loves to put them in her mouth. She is laughing, cooing, and grabbing objects with both hands. She would love to play board games as much as her parents and grandparents.

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This new year will be a great growing time for all of us!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Debbie’s Forgiving Connects