Soothsayer's Corner

By Leean Lester

Happy New Year! (or as they say in Chinese, Gung Hee Fat Choy!) January 26th marks the start of the Chinese New Year. It will be the year of the earth ox. It also has the aspect of yin, associated with female energy, and is number 26 out of 60 in the cycle line up. China follows a lunar calendar, and the lunar date for the current year is 2645.   

The Chinese New Year celebration runs for 15 days. Each day is marked with activity that reflects beliefs.

For example: 

  • It is believed that washing floors or clothes for the first five days of the New Year will wash your wealth away.
  • On the first day of Chinese New Year, the elderly abstain from eating meat, as they believe that this fast will ensure a long and happy life. This custom is known as the welcoming of the gods of the heavens & earth.
  • Day two is marked with prayers to ancestors and gods.
  • Days three and four are celebrated by payin respect to in-laws.
  • Day five is "broken day." This means no visiting friends and relatives—it's considered bad luck.
  • Day six through day ten is a time to offer fruits and cakes and to pray for good health and fortune when visiting relatives and friends.
  • Day seven involves a custom where farmers display produce making a drink using seven types of vegetables. The day is celebrated also by eating noodles to ensure longevity, or eating raw fish to represent success.
  • Day fifteen, the last day of the festival, is when the dragon and lion dance takes place.

There are many beliefs and traditions associated with Chinese New Year. Here are a few more Asian customs you might enjoy practicing:

  • Ringing a gong is believed to chase away evil spirits, while ringing a bell is said to attract good spirits. 
  • For good luck, tangerines are what you need.
  • Having representations of lions in front of buildings is believed to chase evil spirits away and bring good fortune.
  • Women who wash their hair just before the new lunar year will enjoy good health all year long.
  • Hearing a magpie bird cry is considered to be unlucky.
  • Offerings are made at altars, and coins are placed in water features to bring good luck.

I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Chinese New Year and other Asian customs. Next month, we’ll take an in-depth look at how western and Chinese astrology differ. Until then, may the spirits bless you and watch over you and yours.

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