The Rooster (雞) is the tenth of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Rooster is associated with the Earthly Branch (地支) symbol yǒu (酉). However, the Chi…
Source: Year of the Rooster (鷄年)
Source: Year of the Monkey
The 15th day of the first lunar month is celebrated as the Lantern Festival (元宵節). In 2017, it falls on 12 February (Sunday). As early as the Western Han Dynasty around 210 CE, the Lantern Festival had become a significant festival. During the Lantern Festival, people have fun at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns (猜燈謎).
In the ancient days, young adults celebrated in the hope of finding loved ones. Matchmakers were busily pairing couples. In more recent times, it is touted as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Lanterns are used for decorations and they are always red in colour to symbolize good fortune. They can also be made in the shape of animals.
The following images show traditional lanterns in different shapes and designs in a long scroll painting circa 1486 CE (明宪宗元宵行樂圖卷).
People eat sweet glutinous rice balls, yuanxiao (元宵) also known as tāngyuán (湯圓), and enjoy a family reunion.
Famous Chinese poems related to the Lantern Festival
The lanterns images come from 中國國家博物館 館藏文物研究叢書 繪畫卷 風俗畫 (2006)
The 7th day of the Chinese New Year is known as Renri (人日, 人慶節 or 七元節), literally the Everyone’s birthday. According to Chinese folklore, Nǚ wā (女媧) is the goddess who created the world. She created the animals, human beings and grains on different days. Renri was the day human beings were created. The days on which different animals and grains were created are:
1st Day : chicken ; 2nd Day : dog ; 3rd Day : pig ; 4th Day ; sheep ; 5th Day : cow ; 6th Day : horse ; 7th Day : human being ; 8th Day : grains (穀)
People celebrate renri as part of the CNY. Fireworks (花炮) are lit. Foods like “seven-vegetable congee” (七菜粥 ), “jidi congee” (及第粥) or “seven-colour sliced raw fish” (七彩魚生) are common to celebrate the occasion.
A poem related to renri.
入春才七日, 離家已二年。人歸落雁後, 思發在花前。
(意譯) 入春只有七天, 我離家已經有兩年。回家的日子要等待春回大地雁群從南方北飛回來之後，但春天花開之前我已經有回家的念頭了。
(Meaning in English) It is only the 7th day of the CNY but I have already left home for two years. I will return home after spring arrives when the wild geese flying back to the north. I thought of going home well before the spring flowers blossom.
Further readings :
Forever joy throughout spring and autumn
Perpetual increments of blessing and longevity
May I wish all my relatives, friends and students a Blessed, Happy & Prosperous Year of the Sheep.
敬祝各位親友及同學 新年進步, 身體健康, 萬事如意。
The 28th day of the final month in the lunar calendar is a very special day. It is the tradition of Hong Kong, Macau and places in southern Guangdong to have an annual clean-up. In 2017, it falls on 25 January (Wednesday).
This annual clean-up was illustrated and recorded in the nianhua (年畫) of the 19th Century.
Renewing the Peachwood Board (桃符換彩)
The woman is cleaning some ornamental pieces.The woman is cleaning some ornamental pieces.
The two scripts Hóng xǐ (鴻禧) means Happy New Year.
For many centuries the Chinese people have decorated their homes during the Chinese New Year (CNY) with brightly-coloured pictures printed on paper by woodblock painting. I have published 2 pages on nianhua about religious pictures and symbols of good luck. Please have a look. May I wish you a happy and prosperous Year of the Sheep!