Happy Chinese New Year 2021

According to the Gregorian calendar, a brand new year has begun quite some time ago. But another new year excitement awaits the Chinese people living in Thailand and Thai people of Chinese origin.

The date on which the Chinese New Year falls is a different day each year according to the lunar calendar. This year, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 12th in China and all around the world.

14% of the population in Thailand is of Chinese origin. This makes the Chinese New Year an exciting event in Thailand, too. In Thailand, it is a day where families come together, gods are worshiped and ancestors are being honored. Big celebrations are held in Chinatown/Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and other areas where the Chinese are densely populated. The streets turn into a feast area; with acrobatic and dance shows, "lion dances" and firecrackers.

The Chinese New Year, called "Chūnjíe" in Chinese means "Spring Festival" and the new year symbolizes the end of the winter season. The Chinese New Year is generally divided into three celebration days. On the first day, everyone gets prepared for the celebrations, people go shopping for food, and the houses get cleaned for celebrations. On the second day, people pay respect to their ancestors and spend time with the elderly and family, and of course they enjoy having festive meals together. On the third day, they take time off from work and travel to get some rest.

The Thai-Chinese believe that wearing red on the Chinese New Year will bring them luck. Not only clothes are colored though; houses are also decorated with red lanterns, posters and Chinese calligraphic prints. Since the mythical monster Nien is believed to visit homes during the Chinese New Year, dried fruits are prepared as offerings and firecrackers are used to scare the monster.

Another tradition of the Chinese New Year which the Thai-Chinese are familiar with are the "red envelopes". Parents and grandparents give young people red envelopes, "ang-pao" or "hóngbāo" as they are called in China. It is believed that the money given in these red envelopes will protect them from bad luck or evil spirits in the new year. The envelopes are also called "yāsuìqián", which means "money to get rid of evil spirits."

The taboos or beliefs vary depending on which region of China the person is from. Some regions forbid cleaning the body or the house during Chinese New Year, some believe that sharp objects should not be used, others state not to do heavy work, and according to some regions people should refrain from cursing or speak inauspicious words. Otherwise, the whole new year could bring bad luck!

During the Chinese New Year celebrations in Thailand, families prefer both Chinese and Thai dishes. The food consumed also has symbolic meanings; for example, steamed chicken or duck served as a whole symbolizes "wholeness", while oranges symbolize "wealth and good luck".

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the new year will be the year of the ox. We hope it brings luck as the ox represents!

Photo credit : Lise Wong

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