Lunar New Year the Year of the Dog!
Lois Denmark, DACM, L. Ac., Dipl.OM (NCCAOM)-Department Chair of Oriental Medicine, faculty member and clinic supervisor at ESATM.
The Lunar New Year is also known as the spring festival and starts with the new moon on the first day of the New Year and end on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new-year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.
Common customs for Lunar New Year are to thoroughly clean the house prior to the Lunar New Year; but not to dust or sweep on New Year’s Day as the risk is that good fortune might be swept away. Also, it is custom to hide sharp object and tools, plus refrain from use or scissors as to not cut away wealth.
Dried fruits are most common during the season, a platter full of blessings may include; kumquats, tangerines, oranges-which with their golden color signify wealth and prosperity; peaches-with represent longevity and health; grapes-representing bountiful harvest and pomegranates-representing large family. Eating baked seeds is a favorite pastime of most Chinese people and most spring dishes and desserts have legendary origins and symbolic meanings. For example persimmon cakes (shi bing), are a popular New Year’s Eve treat and persimmons represent the phrase “everything goes according to your wishes”.
The swan and the lantern festival is fifteen days after the spring festival and marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. Why lanterns? As the story goes, a heavenly swan was killed by a hunter when it visited the human world. To avenge its death, the Jade Emperor planned to send his knights and burn the earth down. The lesser gods were horrified at this plan and secretly went to warn the humans. On that night, the humans lit firecrackers and each household hung lanterns. From the heavens, it seemed like Earth was in flames. It tricked the Jade Emperor and humanity was saved from his wrath.
Happy New Year from all of us at ESATM!