Photo of the Ke Lok Si Temple in Penang, Malaysia, by ‘Flying Pharmacist’; source: Wikipedia
Also often referred to as the Lunar New Year as the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, it is the most important of traditional Chinese holidays. Celebrations traditionally ran for 15 days from the New Year itself till the Lantern Festival on the 15th day.
In Singapore, as it is in neighbouring Malaysia and Brunei, it is a 2-day public holiday.
2013 is the Year of the Snake (the departing year is Dragon). Jean Guo writes in The Epoch Times that:
Since the snake sometimes is negatively associated with traits like slyness, craftiness, and evil, the Year of the Snake is occasionally referred to as the Year of the Junior Dragon or Earth Dragon.
In addition to the 12-year cycle of Zodiac animals, there is a 10-year cycle of elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. These elements are also associated each year with a yin and a yang element, so a water year may be either a yang water year or a yin water year. Altogether, it takes 60 years to cycle back to the exact same Zodiac animal, element, and yin and yang combination.
Sydney Fong of the blog Add Grain On Earth wrote about a fascinating Chinese New Year legend, about a mythical beast called Nian who would attack villagers and how they realised they could rid of him with things like the colour red and fireworks, and that’s how the tradition for these things started.
I’m in Johor Bahru right now, and as I write this at a little after 8pm on the Eve of the New Year, I can already hear the neighbours steadily starting off bits of firecrackers and fireworks one after another. I guess their traditional Reunion Dinner is over and the kids (and adults alike) are keen to start the fun. This will go on till late into the night for the first few days, and for the following few weekends too. It’s fun seeing them have fun and these people know how to have a good time. My goodness, I’ve witnessed some neighbours launch fireworks from their front yard. Crazy! And rich! Those things cost a lot of money, especially since typically they launch not one or two or ten but a steady stream that goes on for quite a long time. It’s thrilling to watch.
In Singapore, one of the major things we have as part of Chinese New Year celebrations is the Chingay Parade (Ticket details here). From Your Singapore:
Singapore celebrates Chinese New Year with Chingay, Asia’s grandest street parade of resplendent floats and an extravaganza of sights and colours, for the 41st time this year. This annual event features a dazzling visual spectacle of live multicultural local and international performances in addition to fiery fireworks over two unforgettable days at the F1 Pit Building.
Chingay 2013 will take place on 22 and 23 February. Beautifully themed as “Fire in Snow”, it presents a dazzling spectacle of fire as a symbol of bravery, resilience and determination against a spectacular snow scene. The six-part segment will involve 10,000 performers from 120 organizations. Be captivated as the 360-metre long parade route transforms into an ‘ocean of fire’ with 1,000 burning used woks and pots to honour the resilient spirit of Singaporeans.
Sounds grand indeed!