Chinese New Year's Eve and the Lunar New Year

The Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival is one of the three major festivals celebrated by those of Chinese descent. (The other two are the Dragon Boat as well as the Mid-Autumn Festivals.) Celebration begins on the eve of the New Year and ends with the Lantern Festival.

Chinese families begin spring cleaning their house prior to New Year’s Eve; this spring cleaning symbolizes removal of negative sprits and bad luck. In addition, bright red auspicious couplets symbolizing blessings are affixed at the doors, windows, and rice containers to welcome the New Year.

Those who left their hometown for work or study will return to their family home for reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve. This dinner, also known as “hearth gathering”, originates from the ancestral habit of dinning around the stove to signify family reunion. As such, the younger generation will make every effort to attend this reunion dinner, albeit travelling great distance to do so. In accordance with this custom, Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education and its branching monasteries worldwide will jointly hold a year-end gratitude and care sharing session before the eve of this new year; members of the Sangha and devotees will gather to reflect on the fruitful work of Merit Fields (fukuden), perform prayers of blessing, as well as to welcome the future with gratitude.

Chinese women usually prepare special dishes for the reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve. These dishes are heavy with positive symbolism such as “perennial abundance” in food and clothing, in addition to signifying an auspicious and peaceful year ahead; the symbolism in these dishes is also in line with the characteristic values of the Chinese zodiac sign of the coming year. The Chinese zodiac sign of 2018 is the dog, which is the eleventh of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs; the dog symbolizes prosperity, auspiciousness, and good fortune.

After the reunion dinner, elders in the family gift their younger generation red envelopes as a sign of blessings and good fortune. Similarly, red envelopes from the younger generation to the elders signify longevity. In accordance with this year-end tradition, DDM will be giving out red envelopes filled with blessed rice in addition to praying for peace and a smooth journey on the path of Bodhisattvahood.

The coming Lunar New Year is extraordinarily significant for the Chinese; even the tranquil atmosphere at the DDM World Center for Buddhist Education in Jin-Shan, Taiwan is transformed into a lively environment with decorations and bustling with preparation activities to welcome the visiting public. DDM World Center for Buddhist Education and its branching monasteries worldwide have planned a series of activities to commence on New Year’s Eve; these activities include ringing the Lotus Bell as well as hearth gathering dinner on New Year’s Eve, repentance ceremony, and Chan tea party, just to name a few. DDM welcomes you and your family to participate in these activities and to join us in welcoming the New Year.

Texts: Patricia, Yang (楊淑婷)
Translation: Chang, Cheng-Yu (張振郁)
Editors: Leefah Thong (Malaysia)

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