Happy chinese new year! 恭喜發財!
every year on cny eve 年三十, we will go back to our village in sha tau kok to pay respects to my ancestors, clean the old houses, and put up images of the door gods, offerings and blessings on the entrance of our homes.
the door gods 門神 are a common image for all villages, where their spirits are said to guard against evil entering the homes. legend has it that two loyal generals who guarded the imperial palace were recognized for their hard work and loyalty by the emperor who ordered their images to be placed on the palace entrance. over several dynasties the mortal identity of the gods changed but the meaning has stayed the same.
couplets (對聯 in cantonese, 門對 in hakka) are structured poetic sayings, concise and deep meaning, placed as two vertical scrolls on either side of the door, conveying people’s best wishes while describing the bustling festival atmosphere, and one horizontal scroll at the top with an auspicious blessing.
red is a powerful colour, symbolising fire, which in legend, along with noisy firecrackers, helped to scare away the terrifying monster nian 年, which came every year to terrorise villagers, that is why in chinese we say “過年” which implies getting through to the next year.
cny is full of tradition and customs - gatherings, red pockets, food - impossible to mention them all here, but most importantly it has evolved into being about family and friends. i hope that this great meaning continues and help us stay close and connected with each other.
with so many chinese communities across the world, please list an example of cny custom you have that you can share with us!
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