So you’ve probably noticed Asians around you getting pretty excited this week for Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations. Which may or may not leave you wondering: ‘Do all Asians celebrate CNY’? Like the people of Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia etc.
Fear not my friends as I lay it down in this guide to understanding your Asian neighbors!
What is Chinese New Year?
So first of, CNY is based on the Lunar Calendar and hence why the Asian New Year celebration is on a different date to the more common January 1st celebrations around the world.
The lunar calendar is based on cycles of the lunar phases of the moon (in relation to the Earth) whereas the mainstream Gregorian calendar is based on the revolution of the Earth around the sun.
The start of Lunar New Year celebrations falls somewhere between January and February each year with 2017 being on Saturday the 28th of January marking the year of the Rooster and continues on for about two weeks.
During this period, annual customs and traditions are carried out such as: buying new items, setting off fire crackers and handing out lucky red pockets with cash money (to children and unmarried adults – to which I still qualify in one category).
The Lunar New Year Festivities are celebrated each year to ensure another year of Good Luck, Longevity, Prosperity, Happiness and warding off those pesky evil spirits.
Further to this, each year represents a rotation in the Chinese Zodiac (Eastern), similar to the horoscope (Western) in terms of your year or month representing certain attributes, strengths and weaknesses and compatibility with other animals/signs for friendship, relationships etc.
For example, my East and West combo is a Rabbit and Virgo.
Okay, so who celebrates CNY?
Many countries in Asian celebrate the Lunar New Year whom are not Chinese. Even the Chinese themselves don’t refer to it as CNY but rather the ‘Spring Festival’.
So why is it even called CNY when the Chinese themselves don’t use the term? Searching around there wasn’t a definitive source as to why, apart from the term having a nice ring of patriotism to it back from the days of China spreading it’s influence on the rest of the world.
China to this day is still flexing it’s muscles, take for example with what is going on in the ‘East China Sea’ where China is trying to ‘claim’ territorial ownership in disputed waters.
But there’s no denying the influence of China on the modern world from the invention of gun powder, fortune cookies, cheap manufacturing labor and Jackie Chan (just to name a few).
However, there is a trend in moving away from term CNY and adopting the Lunar New Year title – Melbourne’s Crown Casino for example has implement this on it’s website and all along yarra water front outside the casino.
Happy Lunar New Year everybody!
It’s not going to be the end of the world if you say Happy CNY to an Asian… we’re not going to resent you… Well, probably with our eyes.
The Lunar New Year expression is much more neutral and inclusive for all Asians rather than saying CNY. It’s like saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to a non-religious person… How do you tell what religion someone does or doesn’t follow??? How do you tell Asians apart??? Wait, what!? Not all Asians are Chinese???
The equivalent to Lunar New Year in this context would be ‘Happy Holidays’ for everybody who doesn’t celebrate the birth of baby JC but is looking forward to end of another calendar year to enjoy time off with family and friends.
All Above Average Blog post #1.