Global Traditions: Chinese New Year & Chap Goh Mei

The Chinese New Year is one of the most important of Chinese holidays, as it welcomes Spring in the lunisolar calendar. It is celebrated officially in over 9 countries, as well as unofficially in Chinatowns around the world. It begins on the first day of the lunisolar calender - this year, February 10th - and ends on the 15th day (Feb 24th) with the Lantern Festival. In Malaysia and Singapore, the 15th day is also viewed as a variation of Valentines Day called Chap Goh Mei. Single women write their number on a mandarin and toss it into a river or lake, and the single men collect them. There are many different aspects of the New Year traditions: deep cleaning the house, decorating with red lanterns and paper-cuts, feasting, firecrackers, and gifts - particularly red envelopes with money (ang pow) that are given by married people to the unmarried, fruit, chocolate, cake, candies, and various other small gifts.

The celebrations take place over 15 days and each day is characterized by different actions or events:
Day 1) Visiting your family, making lots of noise, no work - including cooking
Day 2) Married women visit their parents
Day 3) Guests are considered bad luck and people stay at home 4) Celebratory spring dinners begin
Day 5) God of Wealth’s birthday - fireworks and dumplings
Day 7) Common Man’s birthday - everyone grows a year older 8) Family dinners are held
Days 9-10) Jade Emporer’s birthday and continuing parties
Day 13) Business prayers to Guan Yu, the god of war
Day 15) Lantern Festival with tangyuan (boiled rice flour dumplings) and candles, Chap Goh Meh with mandarins

Happy Year of the Snake!