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I was talking with my foreign student about Chinese New Year on the 9th day of Chinese New Year.
Student: Chinese New Year is over already.
Although he did not answer but his look was full of disbelief. School has resumed and River Hongbao has just ended, but Chinese New Year is not over yet?
I explained that Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year for 15 days and I saw a face with more disbelief. I further explained that nowadays we do not really celebrate for 15 days, but within these 15 days, we can still visit our relatives and children can still get red packets (红包).
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Today is the last day of Chinese New Year, it is called 元宵节.
Once upon a time, Chinese lighted lanterns on the last day of Chinese New Year to wish for health, wealth, harmony in family, child, etc. Thus, 元宵节 is also called 灯节 (Lantern Festival). It was the only day of the year when the ladies can come out and join the festival (Ladies were not allowed to go out from the house in ancient times). This is why 元宵节 is also denoted as Eastern Valentine’s Day because the men can meet the ladies on that particular day of the year only.
Nowadays, ladies can go to school and work just like men do. Furthermore, we do not light lanterns to make wishes on 元宵节 anymore. Hence, 元宵节 is not celebrated as grand as in ancient times. Nonetheless, there are some couples who celebrate Eastern Valentine’s Day on this day. Coincidentally, today is also 14th February, Western Valentine’s Day. It is a double celebration for couples 🙂
Another name for 元宵节 is 上元节. 上元节 has a Taoism origin. In Taoism, the world is divided into Sky World (天界)、Ground World (地界) and Water World (水界). In each World, there is a God who is in-charge. Thus,
1. 天界 — On lunar calendar 15th January, it is called 上元节. People pay respect to the God who is in-charge of Sky World and make wishes.
2. 地界 — On lunar calendar 15th July, it is called 中元节. People pay respect to the God who is in-charge of Ground World (or another name: ghosts).
3. 水界 — On lunar calendar 15th October, it is called 下元节. People pay respect to the God who is in-charge of Water World. 下元节 is seldom heard because we do not celebrate it anymore.
Today is the last day of Chinese New Year, do you have relatives or friends whom you have not wish them 新年快乐 yet？Wish them now before the last day of Chinese New Year is gone!
Everyone has his/her family. We should always cherish our family because they are the closest to us, especially our parents. There is a saying in Chinese, 百善以孝为先, which means filial piety is the most important kindness act. If we cannot be kind to our parents, whom should we be kind to?
My father was an ordinary man, so ordinary that I do not know how to describe him. Nonetheless, he had taught me several important concepts in life (without actually telling me):
- It was the first time I sent my dad a present for Father’s Day. He accepted the gift, but told me that the best present for him would be me getting good results in school. Since then, I had never sent him a single gift, but he had received the best present every year until I graduated from university. Though he never told me that he was proud of me, I know, he was happy whenever I brought my results to him.
- Make my own decision. When I was in P6, there was an important decision for every student to make. I brought the form home and asked my dad to make the decision. He returned a signed form to me, without any decision. He told me, I should make my own decision because I was the one who knew the importance of the decision and how it would affect me. Of course, he would respect whatever decision I made. It ended up I made a good decision. Since then, I have learnt to make my own decision and take the responsibility to bear the consequences.
- Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Whenever I was facing a dilemma, or a tough decision, my father always told me in his not-so-formal Chinese, do not fear, as long as you are prepared for the worst; always hope for the best to come. As his daughter, I translated his words into English so that I could always remind myself even when he was not here for me.
- My dad always brought the whole family to visit our relatives on Chinese New Year. I have learnt that family is important and families should always keep in touch. Thus, Chinese New Year is a very important festival to me and I will visit my family and relatives regularly as long as I am fit and healthy to do so.
My father died a year before I get married. Sometimes, I really hope that he is still alive and can teach me how to survive marriage life. Although he was not a smart father, not a rich father, but he had wisdom, had the best father’s qualities that just suit his daughter. Don’t worry, father, whatever you have taught me, whether directly or indirectly, I will always remember.