How many days in the Chinese New Year Festival? And what is the meaning of each day? You can get the answer in the story about the Chinese New Year I posted below.
Chinese New Year
Today is the Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the year of Dog. Happy new year!
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important Chinese holiday. It is defined as the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. Unlike the New Year observed by those that use the Gregorian Calendar, which is based on a solar calendar, the Chinese New Year is based on a traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar whose dates indicate both the phase of the moon as well as the time of the solar year. In addition, a lunar month is around two days shorter than a solar month. As such, in order to "catch up" with the solar calendar, an extra month is inserted every few years. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.
Typically, the celebration begins on the New Year's Eve and lasts for around 15 days through the middle of the first month. Before the celebration, people traditionally clean their houses thoroughly, and also display traditional New Year's decorations. This festivity is a time for family reunion, and is considered the most important part of the Chinese New Year celebration. People often visit relatives and friends, do some shopping, watch traditional Chinese New Year events, launch fireworks, and plan for the coming year. The celebration is sometimes accentuated with a religious ceremony given in honor of heaven, earth, the family's ancestors and other gods. In modern China, Chinese New Year is a celebrated public holiday, and working professionals usually enjoy 7 days of time off, including the weekend. After the family reunion and observation of certain traditions, some modern Chinese families may make use of the public holiday as an opportunity to visit tourist destinations.
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The traditional dragon and lion dances greeted several hundred Asian-Americans over the weekend at Fair Oaks Shopping Center in northern Virginia.
They had gathered to ring in the Year of the Pig.
Hank Chao is a Chinese-American and with the Hai Hau Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia. He said, “We used to call it the Chinese New Year. But we have a lot of Southeast Asians, like Korean, Japanese, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia. Those people came to us and said, ‘Hey, we celebrate, too.’"
Members of the community center have gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year for the past 16 years. The holiday begins on the first new moon of the lunar calendar. Because the holiday is based on the moon, it falls somewhere between the end of January and the end of February. This year’s holiday is on February 5. It marks the year 4717 of the lunar calendar.
Chao said each year, people from many countries celebrate the Lunar New Year in northern Virginia. Some years, the celebration even includes Middle Eastern and Irish dances in addition to more traditional performances.
Members of Cambodia's Chinese community perform a traditional lion dance during the lunar new year Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, in front of Royal Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
An Indonesian ethnic Chinese prays during the Lunar New Year's eve at a temple in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Asians around the world will be celebrating the start of the Year of Pig on Feb. 5 this year in the lunar calendar. (AP Photo/Achma
Many Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year. It is called Chunjie in China, Tetin Vietnam, Seollal in Korea and Losar in Tibet.
For many years, the holiday was not celebrated in North Korea. But in 1989, the Korea Times reports, then-leader Kim Jong-il brought back the holiday tradition.
In South Korea, family members play a popular game called yutnori. And they share traditional foods like tteokguk, a soup made of beef, vegetables, egg and rice cakes.
In Tibet, the first day of Losar acts as a sort of communal birthday. Everyone becomes one year older. And, at the end of the three-day celebration, Tibetans throw roasted barley flour, known as tsampa, to wish each other health and happiness.
It might be the Year of the Pig, but many in Hong Kong are not eating pork this year because of concerns over the African swine fever.
A woman named Liu told the South China Morning Post, “It does not really matter, Lunar New Year is more about live chickens anyway, pork is just the side dish and it will not affect our mood to celebrate.”
In this Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, photo, people shop for decorative ornaments in Hanoi, Vietnam. Vietnam is celebrating the Lunar New Year of the Pig, the biggest annual festival of the year. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)
A woman buys Mandarin oranges at a New Year market in Hong Kong's Victoria Park, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Chinese will celebrate the lunar new year on Feb. 5 this year which marks the Year of the Pig in the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In Vietnam, thousands filled Nguyen Hue Street in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh to watch a fireworks show on Monday. In Hanoi, the party chief and President Nguyen Phu Trong was seen handing out red envelopes to workers. The envelopes are filled with lucky money.
Many Vietnamese celebrate Tet with a traditional food called banh chung, a square-shape cake of sticky rice filled with meat and beans, and then wrapped in green leaves.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. Dorothy Gundy produced the video.
Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.
greet - v. to meet someone who has just arrived with friendly words and actions
roast - v. to cook (food such as chicken, potatoes, or beef) with dry heat in an oven or over a fire
envelope - n. an enclosing cover for a letter, card, etc.
Rob's experienced a shock to the system – does that mean he's been hurt? Maybe it has something to do with him returning to work after a holiday. But whatever injury Rob has suffered, Feifei is on hand with some unsympathetic words! Learn more about the phrase 'a shock to the system' in this programme.
Feifei This is The English We Speak. Hello, I'm Feifei…
Rob And hello! I’m Rob.
Feifei Hey, Rob. How was your holiday?
Rob Absolutely fantastic - a whole week sitting around, relaxing, doing nothing. Perfect!
Feifei It sounds great, so why are you looking so grumpy today?
Rob Well, it's my first day back at work and it's been a shock to the system.
Feifei A shock?! Did you get a shock in the office?
Rob Well, no. Not something dangerous, like an electric shock. I mean experiencing 'a sudden and unpleasant change from what you have been used to'. For me, it's a change from relaxing and doing nothing on the beach to suddenly being back in the office, sitting at my desk, working hard – with you!
Feifei That does sound like a shock!
Rob Well, here are some other people who've experienced a shock to the system…
Examples After such a long and hot summer, this cold weather has come as a shock to the system.
I hope they can fix my car quickly. Walking to work has been a bit of a shock to the system.
My daughter has found starting secondary school a real shock to the system. She gets so much homework!
Feifei This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. We've discovered that 'a shock to the system' means experiencing 'a sudden and unpleasant change'. It's what Rob's experienced coming back to work today. So, I guess your holiday is already a distant memory Rob.
Rob Yes, it is.
Feifei All that relaxing and doing nothing, hey? But I'm still confused.
Rob Why's that?
Feifei 'A shock to the system' is 'a sudden change' – but you did the same thing on holiday as you do in the office. There's no change!
Rob Very funny. But, hold on. If that's what you think, I might as well wear these.
Feifei Oh no! Swimming shorts and a hat! Please, go and cover up!
- Candidate numbers system triggers controversy - Each ballot to be used for three choices
AS THE registration of candidates for the long-awaited election kicked off yesterday, most parties appeared confident of winning seats in the House of Representatives despite the challenges brought by the new laws.
According to those laws, each voter will only get one ballot for three choices – constituency MP, party-list MP and potential prime minister candidate.
In addition to this one-for-three approach, the Constitution also prescribes a unique number for each candidate – unlike the previous practice of having candidates from the same party running under the same number. This meant candidates had to rely on their party’s popularity, so parties with a strong branding won the most seats regardless the quality of their candidates.
Charter writers justified the decision of having candidates run under unique numbers as a move to strengthen the House of Representatives. They said that when candidates run semi-independently, voters actually have to recognise them and their abilities in order to vote for them.
Electoral numbers are being given to candidates on a first-come-first-serve basis. Those arriving at the registration station at the same time will have their numbers drawn from a lot. Previously, party leaders drew lots and all party candidates used the same number.
Pheu Thai Party’s de facto leader Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan said at the Bangkok registration station yesterday that contesting under different numbers would only cause confusion among voters. Sudarat, who was at the station with her party members, said Pheu Thai has set up a public relations team to help voters understand the concept of different numbers.
However, her key message to voters was, “remember Pheu Thai’s logo and mark it in your ballot”. She said if her party wins, it will help lead the country toward a peaceful future.
She also sounded confident about the competition. “No matter what numbers candidates are given and how unfair the redrawing of constituencies is, I believe we will still win in Bangkok,” she said.
Separately, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he hoped Democrat supporters will check each number closely to ensure they choose a Democrat candidate when they cast their ballots on March 24.
He too was confident that Bangkok remained a Democrat stronghold, adding that his party had always supported the people and that will help it win votes.
New player Uttama Savanayana, leader of the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party, meanwhile, said candidates from the same party running under different numbers should not pose a problem.
Former Election Commission (EC) member Sodsri Satayathum admitted yesterday that giving each candidate their own unique number in this competition had created controversy, with many believing that this was another measure to stop popular parties from winning a majority of votes.
“Remembering the number of parties is tough enough, now voters will have to memorise the number given to candidates from their favourite party,” she said. However, she admitted that voters should not have that much of a problem because the ballot will also display the party’s name and symbol alongside the candidate’s name.
She also warned the candidates to be aware of all the new rules and ensure they don’t break any laws, or they could face severe punishment.
For instance, all forms of entertainment are banned during the electoral campaign, and violators can face a 20-year ban from politics, she warned.
After the MP candidates got their numbers yesterday, Bangkok and other provinces saw campaign posters being erected in the streets.
New technology has also been widely adopted, with many posters displaying QR codes, which will not only provide voters additional information but can also be used to communicate with the contestants.
More people killed by pollution than by aids, malaria: world health organisation
GOVERNMENT agencies yesterday launched all-out efforts to battle the persistent smog, as dust particles continued to blanket the capital, even as a WHO report said air pollution killed more people than Aids and malaria combined.
Authorities yesterday rushed to find solutions to help ease the problem, including cleaning roads more often, spraying water over Greater Bangkok’s sky, trying to produce artificial rain, and enforcing strict laws against vehicles emitting thick exhaust fumes.
However, the measures failed to cleanse the capital’s foul air. Amid worries that prolonged exposure to a cloud of PM2.5 (airborne dust particles 2.5 microns in diameter or less) will lead to a spike in health conditions and diseases in the long run, Rungsrit Kanjanavanit, a medical lecturer at Chiang Mai University, urged relevant agencies to tackle air pollution at its root. The authorities must ensure clean air for everyone, or at least they should improve their strategies to protect people from air pollution and raise public awareness on this dangerous threat to their health, he said.
Nearly a week since the PM2.5 level in Bangkok rose significantly, forming a thick layer of smog over the city, the air in Bangkok yesterday remained severely polluted. According to the PM2.5 air quality index measured by international air quality monitoring website, https://aqicn.org, it was as high as 396 in Bang Khen district.
“The authorities still do not realise the real dangers of air pollution, as they are very unlike imminent threats to people such as disasters and diseases, which can kill people instantly,” Rungsrit said.
“The impacts to our health from PM2.5 are more subtle and it takes a long time before people get sick from air pollution, so many people and authorities underestimate the deadly threat from PM2.5 to our health,” he said.
The PM2.5 dust particles are extremely small and they are fine enough to be absorbed in the human bloodstream through the lungs. This will cause chronic diseases such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and stroke in the long term if there is exposure to air pollution, Rungsrit said.
Not only does air pollution escalate the risks of numerous sicknesses, multiple medical studies have confirmed that breathing polluted air creates as much risk of miscarriage among pregnant women as from smoking cigarettes, while prolonged exposure to air pollution from a very young age can reduce the learning ability of children, he added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), each year there are more deaths from air pollution than from Aids and malaria combined; the average deaths every year from these two diseases are around 2.36 million people, while deaths from all kinds of air pollution were as high as 6.3 million.
The Pollution Control Department (PCD) should warn people on an hourly basis about air pollution, especially to protect vulnerable groups such as elderly people, children and sick people, and also adjust the country’s PM2.5 safety standards to align with that of the WHO, Rungsrit said.
“People should not just wear facemasks when they go outside during periods of bad air quality, but they should also create their own safe zones at their home and their workplace by installing air purifiers to clean the air indoor,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Sukhum Karnchanapimai said the ministry has coordinated with all related agencies to monitor and protect the people’s health from air pollution and has already set up a monitoring centre for respiratory diseases and heart and bloodstream diseases in Bangkok.
Sukhum said the authorities were now educating the people about the harm caused by air pollution and on how to stay healthy during the smog season. The people were also encouraged to regularly check the current air quality with the PCD.