Chinese New Year consists of a period of celebrations, starting on the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month.
This year it falls on Monday, February 8 - 22 and is the year of the Monkey.
So, if you were born in the Year of the Monkey i.e. 1956, 1968, 1980 and 1992, you are in for an exceptionally good year!
How did Chinese New Year begin?
According to tales, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against villagers and a mythical and vicious beast called Nian.
Towards the end of winter when there was nothing to eat, Nian would come to villages on the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers – terrifying those that encountered the violence.
One day villagers discovered that Nian was afraid of three things: the colour red, fire, and noise.
So when the New Year was about to come, they hung red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors, and let off firecrackers to scare Nian away.
The next year they repeated the ritual and it has been passed down generation to generation until today, and thus the custom of Guo Nian (Chinese New Year) was established.
Hóng bâo and Lion Dances
During Chinese New Year, a red envelope or packet known as hóng bâo is typically given by the grown-ups and seniors to the visiting children and juniors who will usually say something auspicious on taking the red envelope.
The red colour of the packet symbolizes good luck and the amount of money in the packet is often a combination of lucky numbers in the Chinese culture e.g. some may contain the number eight, which sounds similar to the Chinese term for "prosperity".
We have special Westpac red envelopes in most of our branches for customers to pick up.
Chinese New Year is often celebrated with lion dances. The lion is traditionally regarded as a guardian creature in Chinese culture.
During the New Year celebration, people would commonly greet each other with auspicious words or phrases when they meet. Some of the most common examples may include:
· Xîn nián kuài lè (pronounced Sing Ni-an Kwai Lur phonetically) or Happy New Year, and
· Gông xi fâ cái (pronounced Gong See Far Chai phonetically) which is loosely translates to "Congratulations and be prosperous."
Westpac wishes you good fortune and success for the Lunar New Year!