Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) takes place this year on February 16, 2018, the year of the dog. Like most of you, our family is most accustomed to ringing in the new year on January 1, but the Chinese New Year dates vary because of the lunar calendar. Chinese New Year is a celebration that traditionally last two weeks. It begins on the night of the first new moon of the year, which marks the beginning of spring. In many Asian countries, people sometimes travel long distances to visit family and friends. There are many rituals and superstitions that surround Chinese New Year. Today, many of those rituals and practices have changed or disappeared, but the underlying belief persists. So, both as Christians and parents of two Asian sons, how do we preserve their culture and heritage without embracing the beliefs?
- This year, we will decorate our home with red lanterns and a beautiful Chinese tablecloth. Red and gold are the colors of the holiday and are believed to bring wealth and good luck.
- We plan to celebrate with a special meal that will include Chinese dumplings, noodles, rice and mandarin oranges. Noodles mean long life and dumplings bring in wealth and treasure. Oranges are associated with success. (This is really similar to our “good luck” traditional New Year’s Day meal that includes black-eyed peas, greens and cabbage.)
- After reading together about the holiday through National Geographic Kids’ Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto, we plan to light sparklers and let floating light lanterns disappear into the night sky. Originally, the firecrackers were believed to frighten the Nian monster, but today it is simply a way to celebrate and light the way for the new year.
- Each of our children will also receive a traditional red envelope with crisp new money inside. This is probably the most exciting part of the Chinese New Year celebration for the kids! This red envelope is the traditional gift given to children. Red symbolizes good luck and what child doesn’t want a gift of money?
Because Chinese New Year is also often called “Spring Festival,” our primary focus will be on new beginnings and new life. We see Chinese New Year as a time of hope and promise. We will share with our boys the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
As we talk about the superstition of sweeping the old year out of the house, we will share how Jesus cleans the sin from our hearts and replaces it with His Spirit. It is this “cleaning out” of our hearts that matters the most. It is THIS hope and promise that we will celebrate!
We want our boys to be proud of and celebrate their culture, but more than anything, we want them to personally know Jesus so that they will have the promise and hope for an eternal home.
Happy Chinese New Year!!
Guest Blog By: Tami Young