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Herman Jung
Instructor: Patrick Nolan
English 1B
24 February 1997
Traditionally Fun
Parents wake up very early in the morning to cook a vegetarian breakfast in order to thank the Goddess or their ancestors for the past year and to express their desire to have a better year in the future. After the food is ready, they wake their children up, wash up, and put on new clothes especially clothes with red color. Then everyone eats a piece of candy to start filling the next year with sugar, love, sweetness, and happiness. After the kids are ready, they greet their parents and everyone in the house with good morning, Happy New Years and Gung Hay Fat Choy.
Chinatown is bedecked with lights and almost overnight, roadside stalls sprout pussy willows, mandarin trees and plum blossoms while food stores work feverishly to produce loads of festive goodies. New Year as a whole the is perhaps the grandest, noisiest festival in the Chinese calendar. New Year Eve and New Year Day are celebrated as a family, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration is traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the ancestors, usually our great grand parents . Itís utmost significance to go through the customary Chinese New Years traditions: house cleaning, decorations, lots of food, and more for their celebration.
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Chinese New Year is a time of special celebration and joy; therefore many old customs and performances are incorporated into the festival celebrations and competitions held on Chinese New Years. The most common of these are perhaps the dragon dance and lion dance.
The dragon dance was already a popular activity by the Sung Dynasty(960-1279A.D.), and has continued to be so up to the present. The dragon mask and boy used in the dance may be gold, green, variegated, or firey red. The dance may be performed in the daytime or at night. If performed at night, it is usually preceded by someone carrying a blazing torch to illuminate the procession, which moves with the momentum of a tidal
wave, and is a lifelike portrayal of a celestial dragon.
Like the dragon dance, the lion dance also has a long history among the Chinese. The difference is that fewer participants are required, and because the lion head and body are easier to make, and since only a small dance area is required, performance of the lion dance can be seen just about anywhere during the Chinese New Year Celebration. The lion is usually controlled by two people: one to manipulate the head, and one for the tail portion. Sometimes a third person, carrying a silk flower ball, or wearing a mask of the laughing Buddha and holding a banana leaf fan, leads and teases the lion into action, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Food is, without question, a highly significant aspect of Chinese New Years and Chinese culture and ; not only does it serve the purpose of filling oneís stomach, it also strengthens family togetherness and cohesion through the sharing of meals. The most significant is the reunion dinner. The reunion dinner is usually held on Lunar New
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Yearís eve, which is when members of the family gather together for the most important meal of the year. In many families, departed members are not forgotten; a setting is placed for them at the ancestral table and food is offered But prior to the reunion dinner, a spring cleaning is performed inside and outside of the home. This ritual is not only to get the home ready for guest, but also to get rid of evil spirits. Then the house is decorated with kumquat plants, pussy willows, and on doors and walls are poetic couplets written on red paper. These messages sound better than the typical fortune cookie messages, but are symbols of good luck and fortune.
It is very critical family members are home for dinner, even those who are away try to be home in time for dinner. Families make every effort to ensure that there is plenty of food on the table. Rice is usually cooked in excess and everyone is encourage to go for a second helping. This is to signify that the family will always have more than enough