Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chinese New Year - The Year of the Rat


My wish to each of you is good fortune, wealth and happiness in the New Year. May God richly bless you and your family.

Without going into great detail concerning the Lunar New Year celebrations, I thought a few of the common traditional occurances would be of interest to many of us who are not familiar with these customs.

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) or Lunar New Year.

This year, Chinese New Year begins on Thursday, February 7, 2008.

Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxī. Chu literally means "Change" and xi means "Eve".

The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month.The first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.The Chinese New Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known as "new-year visits" New clothing is usually worn to signify a new year. The color red is liberally used in all decorations. Red packets are given to juniors and children by the married and elders.

Red packets

Traditionally, Red envelopes or red packets 'hóng bāo' are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is common for adults to give red packets to children. Red packets are also known as Ya Sui Qian, which was evolved from literally, the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit ) during this period.

Red envelopes always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. The amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals Bai Jin. Since the number 4 is considered bad luck, because the word for four is a homophone for death, money in the red envelopes never adds up to $4. However, the number 8 is considered lucky (for its homophone for "wealth"), and $8 is commonly found in the red envelopes. Sometimes chocolate coins are found in the red packets. Odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit, rather than the last. Thirty and fifty, for example, are odd numbers, and are thus appropriate as funeral cash gifts. However, it is common and quite acceptable to have cash gifts in a red packet using a single bank note — with ten or fifty NT bills used frequently.The act of requesting for red packets is normally called asking for the red packet or money pouch. A married person would not turn down such request as it would mean that he or she would be "out of luck" in the new year.

For additional information of Chinese (Lunar) New Year in Taiwan, here is a link to a Taiwan Government site:

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