Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Welcome to the China Bulletin - March 2016

Happy New Year of the Monkey 

Why do the Chinese Celebrate Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China, is China’s most important traditional festival. It is also the most important celebration for families, and a week of official public holiday. This year, the Chinese across the world celebrated the New Year of the Monkey on 8 February. The Festivities are so important that the Diocese of Hong Kong exempted its faithful from fasting on the Ash Wednesday which was on the third day of the Chinese New Year, but of course with an emphasis on taking up other acts of penance and charity as a substitute for fasting. 

Although there are many interesting legends and stories explaining the start of the Chinese New Year festival, the main two reasons for the festival are:

To celebrate a year of hard work, have a good rest, and relax with family
To wish for a lucky and prosperous coming year
Chinese people believe that a good start to the year will lead to a lucky year. Chinese traditionally celebrated the start of a new year of farm work, and wished for a good harvest (when most were farmers). This has now evolved to celebrating the start of a new business year and wishing for profits and success in various vocations. 

Unfortunately not everything went well with the Hong Kong people during this Chinese New Year. On the night of the Lunar New Year, massive violence broke out in some parts of the city of Hong Kong, marring the New Year festivities.  In the wake of violent clashes between local groups and the police in Mong Kok on February 8, which continued into the daylight hours of the following morning, the diocese of Hong Kong sent a notice to all parishes saying that it does not believe that deep-seated social issues can be settled with violence.

“In no way can we justify any form of violence, nor can we agree that deep-seated social issues can be settled by these means,” said Cardinal John Tong in his message to the faithful. 
The main traditional celebrations of the festival include eating reunion dinner with family, giving red envelopes, firecrackers, new clothes, and decorations.

Chinese New Year is a time for families to be together. Wherever they are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their families. The New Year's Eve dinner is called "reunion dinner", and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.

Marking the great event, Pope Francis had sent greetings of the Lunar New Year to the president of China, Xi Jinping, and the people of China. Pope Francis said, “On the eve of the New Year, I wish to convey my best wishes and greetings to President Xi Jinping and to all the Chinese people. And I wish to express my hope that they never lose their historical awareness of being a great people, with a great history of wisdom, and that they have much to offer to the world.”

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