Chinese New Year (which began this past Thursday) is a 15 day celebration beginning on the first day of the Chinese calendar. Traditions surrounding this celebration are based on bringing luck, health, happiness, family, honoring ancestors and good fortune.
One of the traditions is to clean the entire house before New Year’s Eve. Now that’s a tradition I can & do employ although not for the same reasons. The Chinese don’t sweep on New Year’s Day because of the fear of sweeping away good fortune. They clean their houses thoroughly to rid them of last year’s bad luck before the celebration begins. I, on the other hand do it to make my house presentable.
Certain foods are eaten and believed to bring good luck, “lucky money” is given as gifts and time is spent visiting with relatives. All of these traditions are very similar to the African-American traditions I grew up with such as a meal of Black-eyed peas, giving a silver coin to the first male visitor and spending the day visiting relatives.
One Chinese ritual that caught my eye this year was their focus on ancestors that have passed away.
“The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.
The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year's Eve with a dinner arranged for them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with the living, celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community. The communal feast called "surrounding the stove" or weilu. It symbolizes family unity and honors the past and present generations. “ CLICK HERE for more information
Here’s a way that I connected the events of this week that happened in our household to these rituals. First, we had two very special people in our lives pass away and go onto Glory last week and we buried them this week. As a way of honoring them and celebrating their lives scrapbook like pages were included in the funeral program of my Aunt and we displayed scrapbook pages at the repass for Jerry’s Grandmother.
The day after Grandmother’s funeral we had a communal feast of sorts, the fellas, ( multiple generations)gathered around the stove making breakfast. These relatives haven’t been altogher like this in over 15 years. This gathering definitely symbolized family unity and honored past and present generations.
The best fact I found in my research summed up why all cultures practice certain traditions was this: While many Chinese people today may not believe in these do's and don'ts, these traditions and customs are still practiced. These traditions and customs are kept because most families realize that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.
The best fact I found in my research summed up why all cultures practice certain traditions was this:
While many Chinese people today may not believe in these do's and don'ts, these traditions and customs are still practiced. These traditions and customs are kept because most families realize that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.