The Jakarta Post - SPEAK! - - Main Feature -

Al­though it’s the big­gest hol­i­day in China and in coun­tries with siz­able Chi­nese pop­u­la­tions, the fes­tiv­i­ties aren’t re­stricted to the Chi­nese. Also known as Lu­nar New Year, the cel­e­bra­tion is an im­por­tant event in many Asian cul­tures hon­or­ing the Lu­nar cal­en­dar.What­ever it is called and wher­ever it’s cel­e­brated, Chi­nese New Year is about fam­i­lies re­unit­ing and feast­ing!

The roots of Chi­nese New Year go back to the 16th cen­tury, when the hol­i­day was based on the an­cient Chi­nese lu­nar-so­lar cal­en­dar, which was also a religious and so­cial guide. For older gen­er­a­tions, the New Year cel­e­bra­tion is a time to honor heav­enly an­ces­tors by bring­ing the fam­ily to­gether for a feast.

The story be­gan with a Chi­nese mytho­log­i­cal beast called Nian, who would come out around Chi­nese New Year to prey on vil­lagers.To scare him off, lo­cals would make loud bang­ing sounds, wear red robes and place red or­na­ments on their doors– which, by the way, was how the lion dance was born.

The tac­tic worked. Nian went away and never re­turned.

The big­gest event as­so­ci­ated with Chi­nese New Year takes place on New Year’s Eve, for the Re­union Din­ner, which is much like Thanks­giv­ing or Christ­mas.

Tra­di­tion­ally, fam­i­lies go to lo­cal tem­ples to pray. In mod­ern times, din­ner usu­ally con­tin­ues with a party.

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