Have a Meaningful New Year!

By Not Known

Today is the first day of Chinese (Lunar) New Year.  This major celebration is celebrated by Chinese all around the world including Vietnamese and other Asians who observe the lunar calendar.  Visits are made, mandarin oranges are exchanged with wishes and greetings.  Companies present hampers and gifts to their clients as gestures of appreciation for successful business transactions.  

In mainland China, CNY is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.  It begins with the darkest day of the month which is the first day and festivities will go on for fifteen days when the moon is at its brightest.  Most Chinese may take weeks off from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

This coming year is the year of the snake, a kind of mini-dragon, which may still be considered by some a relatively good year.  Celebrants don brightly colored clothes, decorate their homes with red banners and fresh couplets as well as symbolic items like flowers, fishes, and plenty of good food.  No celebrations are complete without feasting and visitations.  Much like the Thanksgiving or Christmas meals, family reunions dinners are a must for the Chinese.

Of course, these practices all have their origins and some have associations with religious symbolisms. But most people today are merely following the traditions without paying much attention to the original meanings of these practices.  Still, as believers, we need to ask ourselves why we are following them.  Do we understand the implications of some of these practices and be unconsciously doing things that may dishonour Christ?  It may be helpful for us to look at some of these practices.  First and foremost, our celebrations should be about our ethnicity.  The Chinese have a rich heritage as well as deep religious and cultural diversity.  As Chinese Christians, the celebration should be from the perspective of our faith in Christ, who is Lord of our lives.  
House Cleaning: Besides spring cleaning our homes, Christians ought also to evaluate our walk with God in the light of our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Couplets and red banner: The traditional display of couplets or pairs of auspicious poetical wishes should display Christian messages.
New clothes: This may be an opportunity for us to remember God’s provision and be truly thankful.
Oranges: The real “gold” should be a display of our faith in God (see ORPC banner).

Feasting: While over-eating reveals unhealthy indulgences to our bodies which is the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” we ought not to abuse it but more to remember the need for hospitality and promotion of relationships.  It is definitely a great time to remember the unfortunate.
Ang pow: Red pockets given and exchanged should spur us to remember to honor our parents and our elders and to give them the respect they deserve.
Have a wonderful and meaningful Chinese New Year!

Peter Poon