Gong Xi Fa Cai!!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!! Happy Lunar New Year!
We had the privilege to be in Singapore and Indonesia in 2006 during Lunar New Year. The trees, flowers, and decorations were stunning! It was an amazing experience and we learned so much.
Many people don’t know about the traditions and what they mean so I thought I’d share a few here. I’m not an expert and this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it gives you a little explanation of these photos from Singapore and other celebrations you may see around your community.
- Most common are the Mandarin words: Gong Xi Fa Cai (pronounced as Gong-she-faa-tsai) and translates to “Wishing you a prosperous new year!”
- The entire first week of Lunar New Year (also knows as the Spring Festival) is usually a national holiday in China. Many people take vacations for the week, many business are closed, and many families travel to be together for this week.
- The new year is often celebrated with dragon dances, lion dances, gift exchanging, and LOTS of fireworks.
- The color red is the main color for clothes and decorations. It symbolizes joy and happiness. Red decorations, lanterns and colorful symbols can be seen everywhere.
- Certain fruits and flowers are considered lucky such as tangerines, peach blossoms, and kumquat trees.
- Little red envelopes are given as gifts and filled with money or little tokens. Oranges and sweets are often given as gifts as well.
- People eat ‘auspicious food’ during the festival. For many, this means fish dishes. A fish is a symbol of good luck, wealth and healthy life.
- Dumplings are also traditionally eaten during the festivities. These little round rice flour balls are often filled with vegetables.
- Dragon dances and lion dance festivals will usher in the new year in many cities. Some families may even invite a dance troupe into their homes as well.
- In a dragon dance a large team of people (up to 50) carry portions of the dragon on poles and move the poles in a manner that depicts the movement of the dragon. In a lion dance two people dress in an elaborate lion costume and move and dance to mimic a lion.