District Director’s Message – Dr. William Lau, DTM (Chinese New Year)

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The Origins of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year (CNY) is an important festival of the Chinese people the world over. It is also known as Lunar New Year. CNY, according to the Gregorian Calendar, normally falls between the period, January 21 – February 20, each year. January 21 is the start of Springtime; hence CNY is oft-referred to as Spring Festival or Chun Jie in Mandarin. For the coming CNY, preparation therefor may start as early as 28 January, peaks on 5 February, 2019 and ends on 19 February, 2019.

Common Activities During Chinese New Year

To the Chinese, CNY is a time for merriment and joy. It is punctuated with various celebrative activities such as spring cleaning, family reunion and fire-cracking to herald the start and departure of the Festival. Hence, on the eve of the CNY; that is, 4 February, 2019, family members will get together for a reunion dinner to renew kinship and celebrate into the wee hours of 5 February, 2019. At the strike of 12.00 o’clock mid-night on 4 February, 2019, fire-crackers will be let off and the cracking sound will reverberate through the atmospheric quiet.

CNY is also a time for paying respect to one’s parents and elders and a time for remembrance of the departed souls of one’s family members. It is a time for chatting, drinking, cooking and enjoying a hearty meal together. Food menu comprises select dishes whose names are symbolical or prognosticative of happiness, good luck, wealth abundance, good health and longevity. In fact, most, if not all the tradition greetings, salutations and gestures are based on these latter traditions.

Chinese New Year Salutations

During the CNY seasons, we often hear loud exchanges of poetic salutary greetings such “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (“Happy New Year”); “Shen Ti, Jian Gang” (Wish You Good Health); “Bu Bu Gao Xing” (May Your Prospect Increase Gradually); “Wan Shi Ru I” (May All Your Thousand Endeavors Come to Fruition as You Wish; or, “Sheng Yi Xing Rong” (May Your Business Prosper).

The giving or exchange of Ang Pow (Red Packets) is more karmic in nature. It might have its origin from the teaching of Taoism. It symbolizes that when one gives, one may receive in return a 100 fold.

The unmarried adults or children are eligible to receive Ang Pows (money in red packets) from their seniors or elders apart from receiving presents.

A common celebration is the Yee Sang Dinner where the diners rise to stir and mix the shredded vegetables with the raw fish. In Cantonese, this gesture of vigorous mixing and stirring is commonly known as “Lo Hei”, that is to say, “Strive for Success in One’s Business”. Yee Sang may be celebrated at home or at the restaurant.

Of course, the Chinese of Taoistic faith never forget the blessings showered on them by the God of Heaven, to whom, they pray and give thanks to Him at 12 o’clock mid-night on the 8th Day of the CNY season.

My Wish for Toastmasters of District 102

The narrative goes on and on. But, on this note, may I on behalves of my five other senior officers and district appointees, wish all fellow Chinese Toastmasters, “A Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year; and, May We Continue to Give Our Best for the Success of This Term”.