• Spring Festival – Lunar New Year in China

    Ramesh Tiwari
    February 7, 2016
    Spring Festival – Lunar New Year in China

    The Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival  this year on February 8. Most people will follow traditional cultural elements and customs in China’s most festive season.

    Spring Festival this year marks the beginning of the Year of the Monkey, according to the Chinese zodiac that assigns one of 12 animals, either real or mythological, to each year.The monkey ranks the ninth in the cycle, preceded by the sheep and followed by the rooster.

    A Chinese legend says the monkey was recommended by the tiger to be elected into the 12-animal zodiac. The tiger, ranking the third place in the zodiac, once fell into a hunter’s trap and was saved by the monkey.

    Chinese traditionally love the monkey because it is cute, smart and resembles humans in many ways.In Chinese fairy tales, monkeys roamed the world before the sky was separated from the earth and long before mankind existed.

    The primitive inhabitants in Tibet were believed to worship the rhesus monkey as their earliest ancestor, according to scholars on Tibetan studies.

    When people encounter the year of their zodiac sign, it is recommended they wear red to ward off bad luck, with the most common being red string wristlets, red underpants and red socks.

    When Chinese say something will happen only in “the year of the monkey, the month of the horse,” they mean the time is unforeseeable. But according to the zodiac system, such a zodiac alignment is quite predictable this year, coming from June 5 to July 3.

    In many parts of China, young couples prefer having their babies born in the Year of the Monkey, hoping the children will grow up to be smart and lively. Baby booms are predicted this year in particular, as many urban couples are planning to have a second child under the country’s new family planning policy.

    FIREWORKS AND LANTERNS

    Most people stay up late on the eve of the lunar new year, watching the annual TV gala and eating snacks with their families. Those who choose to go to bed early are often woken up at midnight by fireworks, which continue for a week afterwards.

    The fireworks and the red decorations in front of many homes and businesses were originally intended to scare away the “nian” (year in Chinese), a mythical beast supposed to have preyed on people and livestock at the turn of the year. The monster, however, was afraid of loud bangs and red color.

    Although few now believe in the existence of the monster, Chinese families carry on the tradition of hanging red lanterns, setting off fireworks and fixing red scrolls with rhyming phrases on their doors, hoping all the items can ward off evil spirits and bring in good luck.

    NEW YEAR EATS

    Dishes served during Spring Festival often carry symbolic meaning. In northern China, dumplings are an indispensable dish for new year dinners. Many believe eating them will bring fortune, because the food resembles “yuan bao,” a boat-shaped gold ingot that was used as currency in centuries past.

    Although most dumplings are filled with vegetables, meat or fish, some families put special items, most often coins, in one of their dumplings when they are preparing their meal. The person who finds the “special dumpling” is believed to have good luck for the whole year.

    In southern China, where most people prefer rice to wheat, families eat glutinous rice cakes instead of dumplings for new year dinners. These cakes are also symbols of a prosperous new year.

    Fish and leek are also common, as their names sound like “abundance” and “longevity,” respectively.

    Nowadays, the large dinners prepared during the festival feature less symbolism and are seen more as occasions for family reunions, especially for those who live and work away from home and return once a year for the festival.

    LUCKY MONEY

    Children are especially fond of Spring Festival because they know it will bring them gifts in the form of red envelopes stuffed with “lucky” money, presented by parents, grandparents and other relatives. The custom is intended to convey greetings and protect children from bad luck during the new year. The amount given can range from 50 yuan (8 U.S. dollars) to several thousand yuan, but the money must be given in an amount that ends with an even number.

    It can be given in exchange for a child’s new year greetings, or be stuck under the child’s pillow during the new year eve.

    TABOOS

    There is a long list of things that Chinese will avoid during Spring Festival, though specific items vary from one region to another.

    Chinese households carry out a full clean before the new year eve, partially to usher in a “clean” new year, and also because doing it after the start of the new year is believed to clear away good luck.

    Quarrels, crying and cursing are forbidden, as people fear that bad behavior on the new year eve will continue throughout the coming year.

    Housewives must be extremely careful in the kitchen to avoid breaking bowls, plates or glasses throughout the first lunar month, as the damage might forecast economic losses for their families during the new year.

    In case a person breaks something, he or she must immediately say “sui sui ping an,” meaning “let’s be safe during the new year,” as “sui” in Chinese translates into “year” as well as “being broken.”

    Many superstitious northern Chinese also believe that if a person has a haircut during the first month of the lunar year, his maternal uncle will die.

    As a result, some barbershops are open nearly 18 hours a day for the pre-holiday rush for haircuts, which lasts for at least two weeks before the new year eve.

    While women like to spruce up for the holiday, even men with short hair like to get an extra trim before the new year, in case their hair grows too long in one month before their next haircut, which is often scheduled for the second day of the second lunar month.

    The tradition can be traced back to an ancient story about a barber who could not afford a decent new year gift for his maternal uncle, choosing instead to give his uncle a haircut that made him look much younger.

    After his uncle passed away, the barber missed him very much, crying with the coming of each new year. The Chinese phrase for “missing one’s maternal uncle” (“si jiu”) is very close in pronunciation to the phrase for “death of one’s maternal uncle.

    Courtesy : Xinhua / Feb. 7, 2016

    • Connecting you with the world of travel and tourism

      News Brief

      Kabul: Afghan security forces have regained control of Intercontinental Hotel, hours after the gunmen burst into the hotel shooting at guests and staff. At least five civilians were killed and six were injured in the siege. Three of the attackers have been killed and more than 150 guests were rescued. No group has said it carried out the attack, but the Taliban targeted the Intercontinental hotel in 2011.

      Beijing: China’s economy grew by 6.9% in 2017 according to official data – the first time in seven years the pace of growth has picked up. The figure beats Beijing’s official annual expansion target of about 6.5%. Gross domestic product (GDP) totaled 82.71 trillion yuan (about 12.84 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2017, with the service sector accounting for more than half of the total.

      Shanghai: China Eastern Airlines and other domestic airlines have begun to allow mobile phone use on their aircraft or announced plans to lift a ban. China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines began to allow passengers to use portable electronic devices (PED), such as smartphones and tablets.China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced they would allow mobile phone use on all their flights this week. – Agencies

      2017 in review -Top stories

      January 1 : New year nightclub attack leaves 39 dead in Istanbul
      January 20 : Republican billionaire Donald Trump sworn in as 45th US president
      January 23 : Syria peace talks begin in Kazakh capital Astana
      March 29 :United Kingdom officially launches the Brexit process
      April 4 :Syria launches chemical attack killing 90 people
      April 6 : US cruise missiles destroy Syrian air base
      April 9 : Bombings at two churches in Egypt kill dozens
      April 16 : Refugee death toll passes 1,000 in Mediterranean
      April 16 :Turkey says YES to presidential system
      May 6 :Emmanuel Macron elected French president defeating Marine Le Pen
      May 19 :Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani wins re-election
      May 22 : Terrorist attack kills 22 at Manchester concert
      June 5 : Gulf nations severe ties with Qatar
      June 7 :Suicide bombers attack Iranian parliament killing 13 people
      June 14 :London fire kills 71 in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower
      July 4 :North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s missile ambitions
      July 28 : Pakistan’s top court disqualifies Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office
      August 5 :US withdraws from Paris climate change pact
      August 17 :Storms cause record damage in Caribbean and southern United States
      August 25 :Muslim Rohingya start fleeing Rakhine state in Myanmar
      September 15 : NASA’s 13-year Saturn mission ends
      September 20 : Earthquake kills more than 200 in Mexico
      September 24 : Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel wins fourth term
      September 26 : Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving
      October 1 : Gunman opens fire on Las Vegas music festival killing 59 people
      October 14 : Massive bombing in Somalia’s capital Modadishu kill more than 500 people
      October 24 : China confirms the elevation of President Xi Jinping to the same status as the nation’s founder, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping, by enshrining ‘Xi Jinping thought’ in the party’s constitution at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
      October 27 : Catalonia declares independence from Spain
      November 4 : S audi Arabia detains 11 princes, four ministers and ten former ministers in a corruption probe
      November 12 : Iran-Iraq magnitude 7.3 earthquake kills more than 500
      November 15 : Argentine navy submarine disappears with 44 crew on board
      November 21 : Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years in power. His former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa will become president.
      November 22 : Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic convicted of genocide in Srebrenica during the 1990s Bosnian War
      November 24 : Gunmen kill hundreds at Sinai mosque in Egypt
      December 4 : Houthi militants assassinate Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh
      December 5 : Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics for state-sponsored doping
      December 6 : US President Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
      December 17 : Price of one bitcoin reaches a new high of $19,783.06 dollars
      December 21 : Yemen’s cholera outbreak
      December 22 : Syria peace talks in Astana (compiled)

      Top ten most visited cities

      Between January and August 2017, destinations worldwide welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors), 56 million more than in the same period of 2016 .The top ten most visited cities are:
      CityVisitors
      HONG KONG26.6 million
      BANGKOK 21.2 million
      LONDON19.2 million
      SINGAPORE16.6 million
      MACAU15.4 million
      DUBAI14.9 million
      PARIS14.4 million
      NEW YORK12.7 million
      SHENZHEN12.6 million
      KUALA LUMPUR12.3 million

      Source: Euromonitor International

      Wildlife in Chitawan , Nepal

      Window of Nepal Tourism

      http://www.nepaltournews.com/