Monday, January 26, 2009

Celebration 1-- Happy (Chinese) New Year!!!


Today marks the opening of the new year for the Chinese. This year is the year of the Ox!

How, Ox-citing! ;D

It marks the beginning of the year 4707 (or 4706, or 4646 depending on when you think Emperor Huangdi reigned). The calendar that this is based off of was originally created by Emperor Huangdi. A combined lunar and solar calendar, it requires precise astronomical calculations to be taken in order for the calendar to be created.

While I won't get into the calculations that are rather confusing, I will take this chance to explain Chinese New Years a bit.

The New Years is originally a festival for the spring. It takes place after the harvest has been taking in and before the farmers plant in the spring. New Years for them is actually called "Spring Festival" people outside of China refer to it as the "Lunar New Year" or "Chinese New Year".

Emperor Huangdi is considered to be the ancestor of the Han Chinese. Huangdi is actually one of the "5 emperors" who were around before the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty of China to be recorded historically. Yet, there is not much evidence that the Xia dynasty actually existed. Ignoring the whole historical debate, Huangdi is seen as a morally perfect emperor. Also known as the Yellow Emperor, the Chinese have historically pointed to him and his sons as the forebearers of the noble families of the first three dynasties (Xia, Sheng, & Zhou) as well as the progenitors of all Han.

Needless to say Huangdi is a rather important person in Chinese history. Other than his bringing together of tribes to form China, He also is a deity of Taoists, and is credited with not only inventing the calendar as well as ordering the creation of Chinese characters, thus the language being called 'hanyu' or Han-language while the characters are called 'hanzi' or han-characters.

The Spring Festival is a major event, it brings families and friends together. People gather to celebrate, to eat, to dance, and to remember their history and heritage. A fifteen day long celebration after the new year consists of many visits to friends and neighbors, much eating of symbolic dishes and overall jubilation.

But where does tea fit in...

In some regions of China Tea is the first thing to be consumed in the new year. After you take a drink you should say "life will be happy". Traditionally the Tea is also served with Lotus seeds, to signify "you will give birth to a boy", Sticky rice flour cakes, to signify "you will be promoted to a high position", and/or Filled sticky rice balls, to signify that all the family members will live in harmony and be reunited.

So have a cup of tea today, preferably some red tea (that's black tea to us British-tea minded folk) , hopefully the color red will scare away the 'Nian'. Who knows, maybe having a glass will help fulfill what the Ox stands for and this year will be prosperous for you, through fortitude and hard work!

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year! Hope you got some hits from the cheese blog. I just got a bunch of strangely wonderful questions from someone I do not know. To begin, "Has cheese ever saved a life?" It only gets better. Can't wait to try out the tea site and coupon! Thank you!


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