The Tang family, owners of TANG The Asian Food Emporium are getting ready for the Chinese New Year.Traditionally the event lasts 15 days, with New Year’s Day falling on February 19th this year. With modernity in parts of China and the West there is less adherence, but for the true celebration of the Chinese New Year, it is a mammoth 15 day event. The Chinese New Year Festival is a series of events that celebrates the commencement of the New Year. This year, the Year of the Sheep (Ram or Goat), is a new and refreshing opportunity to make the most of life.
For Chinese people, health, wealth and family are the traditional focus, and the events around New Year reflect this. With a New Year tradition, the celebrations focus on what is important – your family, your fortune and the future. It also symbolically cleanses the family, its household and even the clothing of all in a way that represents the shedding of the old year and the past. This is a new beginning, and to face it with anticipation, optimism and joy with your family is a time consuming but pleasurable task.
There are three major “times”. First, there is the “Before” which can be up to half a month before New Year. In older times this could be longer. This is a time for cleaning. It is a mandatory task and symbolizes brushing away the old. Similar to a spring clean, cleaning is thorough and tackles areas not normally cleaned.
New clothes are purchased, to be worn on the first day of the New Year. The old clothes are discarded and not to be worn again. This means new suits, shirts, shoes etc for men and new dresses, blouses, shoes etc for women.
The decorations go up the night before New Year. They are generally placed to either side of the entrance door and above the door. The decorations carry aspirational messages and good wishes for the future.
Above the door, symbolizes travel. The front door at the entrance carries the character for “Luck “or “Fortune”. This is displayed upside down. When spoken phonetically it sounds like the Chinese word for “Arrive”, so displaying the upside down character ensures that the luck comes or “arrives” for your household, your family and your business in the coming year.
As the Tang family stock up the shelves of their Asian Food Supermarket at 185 Russell Street, Melbourne with traditional Chinese New Year foods, our blogs will continue to describe the activities and traditional foods of the Chinese New Year Festival.