The Year of Horse

Today is a special day for all the Chinese people.  It is the traditional Chinese New Year! It goes without saying that Chinese New Year is always a big deal for Chinese people. No matter where you are. no matter how old you are, the joy of the celebration is irreplaceable in your hearts. I believe the simple way to understand Chinese New Year Celebration is to think about the New Year Celebration in US.

I guess some of you are wondering why Chinese New Year is a huge deal for Chinese people? Because Chinese New Year celebration represents three things in China: Unity, family, future. Let me explain each concept for you in detail.

First of all, Unity.  When I mention the word “unity”, I am not thinking about the unity of world. Neither I am talking about the unity of the organization. I am talking about the harmony of the family. Owing to the fast-paced society, more and more Chinese people are getting busier and busier. Most of the younger generation spend 90% of the time on traveling from city to city, or working in the office.  Their time on spending with the family is less than they want. Also, the current economic condition pushed the younger people to look for jobs more intensely. 8 out of 10 people are looking for jobs right after graduation from universities or colleges in China. Majority of their time are occupied with this and that. Parents at home don’t have time to see them during the week. Some of them have to work on the weekends as well.  However, when Chinese New Year comes around, there is no more work, no more traveling. It is the opportunity for the children to be united with their parents at home.

I clearly remember that my parents were working so hard while they were trying to raise me.  I still recall that some of my weekends were spent with my grandparents, instead of being with my parents. They were busy with jobs. My dad changed several jobs while I was little. Finally, he landed a job that he loved so much. I witnessed how hard they worked and how much time they gave to their jobs. I didn’t have many chances to eat the food that my mom cooked until Chinese New Year. I was so looking forward to it. My mom is always a great chef.

Chinese New Year is the time where family can get together and enjoy the companionship within each family. Unity and peace are much more important than anything for a Chinese person.

The second word is family. You might ask me” Mengfei, didn’t you just talk about family unity or family get-together?” Yes. I did mention little about the family. However, what I mean family here is different. When I say Chinese people care so much about the concept of ” family”, I mean Chinese people respect the older generation in one family. Take my family for example.

My  grandfather, my father, and I were born in Beijing. My grandfather was raised before China was founded. He witnessed all the changes in China through his own eyes. He had more understanding and knowledge about China than anyone in my family. He has certain ways of living and seeing things in life. Everyone in my family respect him so much.  People who are similar to my grandfather always has a nickname called “Lao Beijinger.”  That’s because he knows more than anyone and  has been living longer than anyone in my family. Basically, my grandfather always has the rules in the family. For example, no one is allowed to eat the food on the table until he sits down. As the younger generation, we need to visit him once a week. He is the person who can make the final decisions on the names of the grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, etc. My family has been living this way since my father was born.

So, when we talk about family in China, mainly, we are referring to the hierarchy of one traditional Chinese family. Since I was little, my parents always teach me on the concept of educating the older people in the family. I never forget that. Senior citizens in China play key roles in the growth and development of the Chinese society. I love my grandparents. Although they might be wrong on certain things from time to time, I never bother to correct them. I love them and they love me more!

The Chinese Calligraphy for " Horse".
The Chinese Calligraphy for ” Horse”.

The last word is “Joy”. I am sure you are not unfamiliar with this word and its meaning. For Chinese New Year Celebration,  spreading joy is part of the tradition. People sit together and share all the good news and bad news happened this year. There will be tears, there will be laughter. That is the moment that no one has enough. Joy is another word for happiness. Someone once asked the Chinese Confucius on the meaning of happiness. Chinese Confucius thought for a while, said, ” did you see the birds in the air? They can fly and never worry about the food. That’s happiness for them. Happiness is you laugh out loud and no one understands.” I think that’s the best explanation of joy or happiness.

If you are living with a Chinese family during the Chinese New Year, you will never be able to go to sleep that week. Because there is always something fun and exciting going on daily. Everywhere you go, you see people laughing and smiling to each other. That’s the most genuine smile you can ever find. I never get tired of taking pictures of all kinds of smile.  Scientifically speaking, whenever people smile, there is certain chemical released from our body which boosts our health. I know somewhere in China, there is a small village of people whose average is above 120. People called “Village of longevity.” Some scientists ask the secrets of their living habits. Much their surprise, the interviewees told the interviewers” we always laugh at things. Silly? I don’t know.But we live longer by laughing more often.” That’s why joy is way more important to Chinese family.

Friends, although it is the celebration of New Year, that does not stop you from having fun. Every day should be the “Chinese New Year” for you and me. Let’s laugh more and enjoy life!

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