Exploding into the New Year. Happy year of the Dragon!
The sun is down and we have officially started the year of the dragon. The Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year celebration, started tonight and goes for the next few weeks. The state transportation board estimates that the 1.3 billion person population will be taking 3.1 billion trips over the next 40 days. Check out this Reuters story about the Spring Festival being the largest human migration on earth.
While there are many many new year's traditions I wanted to highlight a few food and cleaning superstitions.
"Many people also abstain from eating meat on the first day of Chinese New Year because it is believed that this will ensure a long and happy life. Some may eat a whole fish, that represents togetherness and abundance, or a chicken with its head and feet intact, which symbolizes prosperity. Any noodles in your bowl should be left uncut, as a sign of long life. Plants and flowers also play a significant role in symbolizing rebirth and new growth. A home is thought to be lucky if a plant blooms on New Year's Day, as this foretells the start of a prosperous year. "
"Another Chinese superstition is that the entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment are put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away, which if you think about it does make some sense. After New Year's Day, the floors may be swept. Beginning at the door, the dust and rubbish are swept to the middle of the parlor, then placed in the corners and not taken or thrown out until the fifth day. At no time should the rubbish in the corners be trampled upon. In sweeping, there is a superstition that if you sweep the dirt out over the threshold, you will sweep one of the family members away. Also, to sweep the dust and dirt out of your house by the front entrance is to sweep away the good fortune of the family; it must always be swept inwards and then carried out, then no harm will follow. All dirt and rubbish must be taken out the back door."
To celebrate the year of Dragon here is a Sancai pitcher from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). A closer look shows the double handle is topped with a dragon head. Happy New Year!