Chinese New Year
To the Chinese community, the most important festival celebrated is the Spring Festival, more commonly known as Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a new lunar year and falls on the first day of the ‘first moon’ in the lunar calendar. It is also the most important event of the entire Chinese calendar.
Chinese New Year symbolises renewal; a turning point in fortunes and lives on the whole. As such, families hold the traditional reunion dinner to celebrate the coming of the ‘first moon’. As midnight strikes, a cacophony of fireworks is heard throughout cities and towns marking the beginning of the new year. Fire crackers are believed to drive out evil spirits.
A Chinese home is incomplete without the traditional specialties of wax ducks and sausages, glutinous cakes and mandarin oranges. As red is the predominant colour symbolising luck for the Chinese, strips of red paper with ‘lucky’ characters inscribed on them are hung on walls or doors in most homes. Ang pows or 'lucky money’ are given in special red packets to the younger members of the community by their elders.
The Chinese moon calendar is divided into cycles of twelve years and is named after various animals. In order of sequence, the twelve animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Chinese New Year is ushered by the sign of these animals yearly. According to popular belief, individuals are born under the influence of the animal that controls the year of their birth.