Chinese New Year is the most important festival for the Chinese people. It is also known as the Spring Festival. It is believed to be originated in the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC - c. 1100 BC) from the people's sacrifice to gods and ancestors at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar to the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5811, 3164|
|3D||226 , 160|
Some of the common Chinese New Year traditions:
New Year's Eve Dinner (Reunion Dinner)
The New Year's Eve dinner is the most important dinner for the Chinese. Traditionally, this is the family reunion dinner, where family members from near and far get together for this customary dinner and to usher in the lunar New Year. At the New Year's Eve dinner, fish and dumplings are served to symbolise prosperity and good fortune. The New Year's Eve dinner is usually held at home but in recent times, restaurants have become a popular venue for the reunion dinner.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||0698 , 3555|
|3D||260 , 321|
Shou Sui means after the New Year's Eve dinner where family members will normally stay awake during the night. According to tales and legends, there was a mythical beast called the "Nian". At the night of New Year's Eve, the "Nian" will come out to harm people, animals and properties. Later people learned that the "Nian" is afraid of red colour, fire and loud sounds. Therefore, on New Year's Eve night, people will launch fireworks and put on red clothes, and stay up the whole night to fend off the "Nian".
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5840 , 1252|
|3D||418 , 109|
Fireworks are used to drive away the mythical beast called the "Nian". Right after the New Year's Eve, fireworks will be launched to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as to drive away the “Nian”. It is believed that the person who launched the first Fireworks in the New Year will have good luck.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5781 , 1242|
|3D||478 , 481|
The lion dance has been part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years. The lion, a symbol of power, wisdom and good fortune, chases away evil spirits and brings happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. The lion dance is also performed at many business locations during the Chinese New Year Celebration for the lion to bring prosperity and good luck to the business for the upcoming year.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||8782 , 8718|
|3D||138 , 139|
Red Packets (Ang Pow)
Red packet is a red envelope with money in it. Usually the red packet is given by adults, especially married couples and elderly people to young children during the New Year. It is believed that the money in the red packet will suppress the evil from the children, and grant them good health and longevity. The Chinese language is rich in its homophones. Amounts given in the traditional red packets may symbolise these Chinese homophones. For instance, you can give an amount ending with an eight (8), as it sounds like the word fortune in Chinese, or nine (9), which sounds like the word for longevity.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5631 , 3134|
|3D||329 , 932|
Qing Ming is the annual festival to pay homage and to commemorate the departed ancestral spirits. It usually falls on 5th, April every year. Traditionally, 10 days before and 10 days after the actual day, one will start visiting the family graves with hoes and brooms to spring clean the gravesites. This is a way to show filial piety not only to the living but also to the dead.
During the visit, gravesites are cleaned and a fresh coat of red or gold colored paint is applied on the wordings of the tombstones. The annual up-keep is important to show that the families have not died and they continue the act of veneration, honour and obligation. After all, the dead are believed to be intimately connected with their families and are responsible for ensuring their good fortunes and blessings.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||3041 , 5808|
|3D||206 , 824|
The most important day of the year for Buddhists is Wesak Day, which commemorates the three great events that concerns Buddha, that is his birth, enlightenment and death. Born into a noble family in a place called Kapilavastu in year 563 B.C. in northern India, at the age of 29, Buddha chose to give up material wealth and followed the path of helping mankind instead. Under a Bodhi tree, he maintained inner peace and discipline through quiet meditation. He taught his disciples the "Four Noble Truths" and later the "Noble Eightfold Path". Just before he passed away, he was able to hand down the "Sangha" or order of monks to continue his teaching until today.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5814 , 2835|
|3D||349 , 415|
Delicious savoury or sweet dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves mark the celebration of the Dumpling Festival. Celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month every year, the Dumpling Festival, is signalled by the grand dragon boat race in Penang and with the wrapping and cooking of rice dumplings.
The Dumpling Festival commemorates Qu Yuan, one of China’s greatest poets and patriots, who protested against a corrupt government. Wrongfully dismissed, he protested against the injustice and drowned himself in a river. They sought to recover his body from the river he drowned in, but it was never found.
So that his body would not be eaten by fish, the people then threw dumplings made of rice into the water for fish to eat instead of his remains and boats raced throughout the expanse of the river to find him. Through the ages, the celebration has evolved to become two rather distinct festivals, namely the Dragon Boat Festival where teams of rowers led by a drummer race a dragon-headed boat to reach the finish line, and the Dumpling Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival is normally held from the 15th to 16th of June in Penang. The Dumpling Festival usually lasts throughout the month of June.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||1516 , 0505|
|3D||645 , 801|
For the whole seventh lunar month (August to September), the Chinese believe that the gates of Hades will open and the departed souls will return to the human world for reunions to seek salvation.
During this period, one sees that shelters are set up in fields, town centres and places with high Chinese population. And some have stages for Chinese Operas to entertain both humans and ghosts. On the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as an act of filial piety.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||2062 , 4093|
|3D||360 , 458|
The Mid Autumn Festival (also known as the Moon Cake Festival) falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.
The Lady - Chang Er
The origin of the Mid Autumn Festival was romanticised by the legendary story of Chang Er, who was believed to have taken a pill, became a fairy and flew to the moon to escape from the pursuit of her husband. It was thought that we could see Chang Er on the moon when it is at its brightest in mid-autumn.
The date of this story is around 2170 B.C. The earth once had ten suns circling around it, with each taking its turn to illuminate the earth. But one day all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved by a strong and tyrannical archer Hou Yi. He succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. However his beautiful wife Chang Er drank the elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband's tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he did not shoot down the moon.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5848 , 5401|
|3D||025 , 104|
The Hare - Jade Rabbit
In this legend, three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged for something to eat from a fox, a monkey and a rabbit. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The sages were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the "Jade Rabbit."
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||2569 , 0253|
|3D||083 , 513|
The Cake - Moon Cake
During the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1280 - 1368) China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D. 960 - 1280) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, and set about to coordinate a rebellion without it being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Mid Autumn Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special 'moon' look alike cakes. Baked into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368 - 1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||3554 , 1932|
|3D||617 , 157|
First Birthdate (19th day of Second Month of Chinese Lunar Calendar)
Goddess of Mercy was first described in the Lotus Sutra in the 5th century by Gautama Buddha. She was originally born a xian (holy spirit) reincarnated as a Human to help mankind.
It was told that she had the power to assume whatever form, whenever necessary to alleviate suffering, and to convey sympathy and compassion. She became a saint after her death, and was given the name of Guan Yin by her worshippers. It is said that anyone praying to the Goddess of Mercy would be cured of all illnesses.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5807 , 8807|
|3D||324 , 219|
Second Birthdate (19th day of sixth month of Chinese Lunar Calendar)
This is the second birthdate to commemorate the granting of Bodhisattva status on Guan Yin which she has delayed her full Buddhahood in order to help lessen the sufferings of humans. People who have problems (especially females) would go to her and pray for relief of sufferings, peace, good marriage and happiness.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5828 , 8828|
|3D||217 , 720|
Third Birthdate (19th day of ninth month of Chinese Lunar Calendar)
Third birthdate of Guan Yin is to commemorate Guan Yin's departure from earth and becoming a Bodhisattva.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5362 , 8919|
|3D||362 , 919|
From the first day to the ninth day of the ninth month, the nine spirits of the North Star came to earth. Hence, during this period it is an official time for fasting for the composite god made up of nine former emperors who are supposed to be the mythological sons of the Queen of Heaven.
It is notable that the Nine Emperor God controlled the health, longevity and wealth of those considered as devotees. Throughout the fasting period, people only eat vegetarian diet, wear charms and keep themselves clean from contact with unholy things. Devotees would jostle to pray in temples. Outside, yellow flags are raised, and amulets are pasted on doors and altars. Chinese opera shows would usually be staged specially for the deities.
On the ninth day an urn containing sandalwood representing the spirit of Nine Emperor God would be handed over to the temple committee head for a ceremonial send-off in a decorated boat into the open sea. This will then mark the end of the festival.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5817 , 8817|
|3D||109 , 909|
Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated in the Hindu month of Iyppasi in October/November with fervour and gaiety. The festival is celebrated by all Hindus, young and old, rich and poor throughout the country, to ward off the darkness and welcome the light into their lives.
On this day, the Hindus wake up at dawn, bathe themselves in herbal oil, put on new clothes and say their prayers. Homes of the Hindus are lit with little oil lamps made from clay pots, filled with coconut oil and wicks. This is believed to invite Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, who will not enter an unlit house.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||0791 , 1300|
|3D||321 , 551|
Celebrated on the 22nd day of December when the days become shortest in the northern hemisphere and longest in the southern hemisphere. A time when family members get together to eat glutinous rice flour balls boiled in sweet soup (tang yuan) symbolising unity and harmony. In ancient times, one would be considered a year older and wiser after having eaten tang yuan.
|FESTIVE NUMBERS||1+3D||5871 , 8871|
|3D||110 , 212|