A new year in China nationals starts today. Chinese years go by different symbols for each year and this year it happens to be Ox. The other day, I heard on the local radio, that it is so timely with all the economic issues we have worldwide, the new year with Ox, meaning praying god to give all the strength we need to bear this economic burden and cruise through with this tough situation. Ox is considered to be fairly stronger animal and helps farming the crops.
Few years ago, when I called a co-worker to greet him on this occasion and somewhat (wrongly) pronounced this phrase (Gang Cei fa Chai!) and in return he suggested me to also say “hum bou na lai” –> meaning, bring me the lucky money.🙂
I remember the new year celebration when i lived in Singapore a few years ago. Few of our friends went around the city the previous day after work. It was a bit late when I finally reached the place where I lived. There was a lot of crowd at the center of the city and the residential areas were quite calm. Apparently when I reached the place where I lived, it was fairly empty. I needed to buy some eatables for that night and the following day, apparently no stores were open all day. There were very few buses being operated on that day as well. What I heard later on was, often people either stay home or go outside for food. I also heard that they would not cook food on that day but all things are prepared the previous day itself.
Parades are one of most attractive events during this time in Singapore.
I also heard on a local radio a week ago, that this is the day they pray a Kitchen God who resides right by the Cooking range / stove. Pray the god offer lots of food and wine to ensure the Kitchen God would convey all the right things about the residents to the superior god in heaven.
listening to some of these stories or traditions, I realize there are many rituals or customs somehow relates to what we do as part of our traditions in India. Southern part of India will celebrate the new year around March or April when a start of Hindu Calendar (Chaitra month) starts.
Here are some resources:
about Chinese new year: http://www.theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/
on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year
Activities / superstitions around new year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year#Superstitions_during_the_New_Year_period