Good CharactersGo to Good Characters Home Page

The 15 Days of Chinese New Year’s Celebration

January

9 Today is the 16th of the lunar December and known as “Wei Ya” (尾牙). It’s the day that bosses throw big parties to thank their employees for the past year of work. Year-end bonuses and gifts are given this day. At the parties, there are round tables with a dish in the middle holding a whole chicken. The only thing one needs to watch for is where the chicken’s head is pointed. If the chicken head is pointing in an employee’s direction, it is a subtle hint that the person is fired. It’s a sign of relief when the head is pointed at the ceiling or to the boss.

22 Chinese New Year’s Eve. Today is the last day before the new year—time to get your house clean and laundry done. Cook as much as you can because in the next few days you’re not supposed to use anything sharp and dangerous, such as a knife, to cook in the kitchen. If fish is served, don’t eat the whole thing. The Chinese phrase “may there be fish every year” (年年有魚) sounds the same as “may there be surpluses every year” (年年有餘). Prepare to stay up all night tonight with your family members after the reunion dinner.

23 Chinese New Year’s Day. Today your phone will ring off the hook and text message greetings will fill up your inbox. Slightly bow your head and say, “Gong Ssee Gong Ssee (恭禧恭禧),” literally, “Congratulations, congratulations!” to everyone you meet. You should personally visit relatives, good friends, and people you care about. Fill your red envelopes with cash and give them to the elders in the family, your kids, and other children and teens close to you.

24 Second Day. Today is the day married daughters should visit their parents. Don’t forget to bring a gift, preferably something tasty and sweet. Never visit anyone empty handed, especially your in-laws.

25 Third day. Traditionally it’s inappropriate to visit relatives and friends today. You should rest and go to bed early.

26 Fourth day. Visit people you would like to but didn’t get to visit in the last few days. Have some noodles. Noodles, especially long and uncut ones, represent longevity and long life.

27 Fifth day. Today is the day many Chinese businesses re-open. Some businesses will light a long-fused string that has hundreds or even thousands of firecrackers and hang it along the outside of a high-rise building. And the explosive, loud, popping noise could last for 10 minutes or more. It signifies a joyful and long prosperous time to come. Eat some dumplings. They look like ancient Chinese gold ingots and are therefore considered lucky.

28 There’s an annual Chinese New Year Gala in Fresno. It’s a showcase of Chinese dance, music, and martial arts. Look for local Chinese community events where you are.

31 Ninth day. Said to be the birthday of the Jade Emperor. Traditionally, prayers, offerings, and loud noises of firecrackers will be heard starting at midnight.

February

6 Fifteenth day. Lantern Festival. Many children and teens enjoy walking around the neighborhood carrying lighted lanterns at night. Go to your favorite Chinese restaurant and ask if it serves tangyuan (湯圓), sweet, glutinous rice balls brewed in a soup, because it’s the traditional food eaten on this day. The round rice balls symbolize union or reunion. This is the last day of the Chinese New Year’s celebration.