Lunar New Year
To the people of Chinese descent, the Lunar New Year is undoubtedly the most important festival of the year. Dating back 3000 years, it celebrates the passing of a peaceful year and to welcome a new one.
1. brief introduction of Lunar New Year
The Lunar New Year is also called Chinese New Year. Lunar New Year is the greatest occasion to the Chinese people all around the word. It lasts about the first four days of the year， during which people do not work except for the workers on duty. Students do not go to school, and shops are closed.
Several days before the new year， people begin to prepare. Farmers kill pigs, sheep, cocks and hens. City dwellers buy meat fish and vegetables. Houses are cleaned; coupletsare posted on the doors. Colourful lanterns are hung at the gate.
On the eve of the new year， each family has its members gatherd together and eats a family reunion dinner. After the meal they watch TV until the clock strickes twelve. Then every family sets off long strings of small firecrackers and other fire works to welcome the new year. On the first day of the new year， almost everyone is dressed in his or her best. When people meet on the way， they say to each other “Happy New Year”。 Friends and relatives pay new year calls and gives presents to each other. Children indulge themselves in games.
2. legend of Lunar New Year
Its origin is ancient, but many believe the word Nian, which means "year", was the name of a beast that preyed on people on the eve of a new year. In one legend, the beast, Nian, had the power to swallow up all the people in a village in one big bite. Village people were very scared of Nian.One day, an old man came to the villagers' rescue, offering to subdue Nian. The old man asked Nian, "I know you can swallow people, but can you swallow other beasts of prey instead of people who are by no means your worthy opponents?"
Nian accepted the old man's challenge and swallowed the beasts that had harassed the villagers and their farm animals foryears. At the end of the legend, the old man disappeared riding off on Nian. In this legend, the old man turned out to be an immortal god.
In the end, Nian is gone and the other beasts of prey are scared into hiding in the forests. The villagers can once again enjoy their peaceful life.
3.Preserve core values of Lunar New Year
The reunion dinner, eaten on New Year's Eve, was de rigueur, with members of the extended family gathering for the most significant meal of the year. Even the absentee members would endeavour to return home in time for it.
It underscores the supreme importance of the family in Chinese culture, and aimed at strengthening the sense of togetherness and cohesion.
However, with rapid economic expansion and growing westernisation in Singapore, over time, there has been a noticeable erosion, if not abandonment, of the New Year traditions and customs, which are perceived to be out of step with modern lifestyle.
How was the New Year celebrated 30 years ago？ Two quintessential elements, which were deemed its core values, stood out.
First, the elaborate multi-generation reunion dinner eaten leisurely at home was the norm. The unenviable task of preparing it would inevitably fall on the women folks, assisted by their domestic help for those who could afford them.
Secondly, visiting relatives and close friends was another time-honoured custom that was undertaken cheerfully, and reciprocated enthusiastically too, as a thoughtful way of affirming the ties of kinship and friendship.
How do we celebrate it today？
Increasingly, more Chinese Singaporeans would hold their reunion dinner in posh restaurants, despite the exorbitant costs. They find it more enjoyable and physically less demanding.
Going away during the New Year is now commonplace, sometimes involving whole families or extended families. In extreme cases, some would even seek temporary refuge in a local hotel so as to avoid being visited by relatives and friends, or having to visit them.
They consider this tradition an anachronism as these social calls can easily be made anytime outside the festival.
How do the more tradition-minded Chinese Singaporeans view these changing trends？ They would firmly disapprove if their family members went away on this occasion. They regard the reunion dinner and visiting relatives and close friends during the New Year as core values, without which it would lose much of its significance.
Will the Lunar New Year survive modern living and competing influences in Singapore？ Some pessimists contend that it would gradually lose its sanctity and degenerate into a commercial festival like Christmas has become worldwide, except to the Christians.
This is because, with smaller families, more wealth and less leisure time,the New Year celebrations could be conveniently telescoped into three components： the nuclear family reunion dinner, giving of hong bao and eating yu sheng （raw fish）。
Despite these misgivings, I believe that, as long as the majority of Chinese Singaporeans consider it a necessary part of their life, which I think they do, it will continue to flourish here, even though the modes of celebrating it may differ somewhat from traditions.
My optimism is buttressed by the experiences shown by the Chinese communities overseas, be it Yokohama, New York or London, where the New Year spirit is still very much alive, notwithstanding their entirely different social and cultural environments.
What I would like retained are family and kinship ties and attendant values like respect for one's parents and elders. Without these, the New Year celebration will become a soulless commercial happening and devoid of meaning.
To make it more relevant to the younger generation, it should come across not merely as a solemn obligation, but also as an occasion of great rejoicing and fellowship like Christmas.
While the Chinese clan associations and the Government have done much to stir up more awareness of it as an essential part of Chinese Singaporeans' heritage, it is the individual family that will ultimately determine whether its intrinsic values are worth preserving.
If they do desire their preservation, then it is imperative that they must, by example and action, strive to uphold these time-tested values, as encapsulated in the New Year spirit, against any corrosive influences constantly.
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