Sat, Jan 28, 2006 - Page 9 News List

Lunar New Year traditions
農曆新年的傳統

By Lai mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: TAIPEI TIMES

Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional holiday in Taiwan. It consists of a period of celebrations that starts on New Year's Day, the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar, and ends with the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the New Year.

農曆新年又稱「春節」,是台灣最重要的傳統節慶。農曆新年的慶典於初一展開,一直延續到正月十五日元宵節。

The origins of the Lunar New Year can be traced back thousands of years. One of the legends is that on New Year's Eve, the cruel and ferocious monster Nian would come out and devour people at random. It was said that Nian was sensitive to loud noises and afraid of the color red, so people set off fireworks and pasted red paper on their doors to scare it away. On New Year's day when people wake up, everyone says ``Gong-xi,'' or congratulations, to celebrate surviving the night.

農曆新年的起源可以追溯至好幾千年以前。相傳在農曆年的除夕夜,兇殘的「年獸」會跑出來恣意獵食。據說年獸厭惡噪音且懼怕紅色,所以人們會施放鞭炮,並在大門上貼上紅紙,試圖嚇走年獸。因此,隔日一早人們醒來時都會互道一聲「恭喜」,祝賀彼此平安度過這一晚。

Chinese New Year is also a time for people to return home to have a reunion dinner (Nian ye fan) with their family on New Year's Eve. It is usually a large, lavish meal. After dinner, parents and older relatives give children or unmarried members of the family red envelopes with money inside. Those who have been working should also give their parents and grandparents red envelopes. It is believed that putting a red envelope under your pillow will scare Nian away, and thus red envelopes are also called "Ya sui qian," money that suppresses evil spirits.

農曆新年也是人們返鄉團圓,在除夕夜與家人圍爐共享年夜飯的日子,因此年夜飯的佳餚也往往格外豐盛。晚餐過後,父母及長輩會給予孩童或未結婚的家人「紅包」,而已經工作的人,也同樣要給父母親及祖父母紅包。一般相信,將紅包壓在枕頭下可以嚇跑年獸,故紅包也稱為「壓歲錢」。

All the house cleaning should be finished before New Year's Day to sweep away any ill fortune. On New Year's day, using brooms or dusters to clean the house is not allowed. If someone sweeps or dusts the house on the first day of the lunar month, good fortune will be expelled from his or her home. Taking out the garbage is also forbidden.

年年有餘 (nian2 nian2 you3 yu2):

A wish to have more than you need every year.

萬事如意 (wan4 shi4 ru2 yi4):

A wish that everything turns out as you hope.

狗年行大運 (gou3 nian2 xing2 da4 yun4):

A wish for good luck in the Year of the Dog.


家家戶戶務必在初一之前完成大掃除的工作,掃除任何不好的運氣。初一當天也不可以使用掃把或除塵撢子,假如人們在這天掃地或除塵,會將家中的好運掃出屋外。同理,這一天也不可以將家中垃圾丟棄。

On the first day of the lunar month, children traditionally put on new clothes or hats to get a good start to the whole year. Most people go to the temple in the morning to pray for good luck for the whole year. People also prepare sumptuous foods, wines and fruits as a tribute to their ancestors. If someone accidentally breaks a dish or glass, people say ``Peace to all time'' to avoid misfortune.

大年初一當天,孩童都會有穿新衣、戴新帽的傳統,為新年的開始討個好兆頭,許多民眾也會於早上到廟裡拜拜,祈求一整年的好運。家家戶戶也會在家中準備豐盛的菜餚、酒與水果來祭祖。萬一有人不小心打破碗盤或杯子,人們會說「歲歲(碎碎)平安」來破除不祥。

Starting from the first day of the Lunar New Year, there are many celebration activities, like setting off firecrackers and performances of dragon and lion dances. Some families will play the traditional game "mahjong" for fun. It is believed that the winner will gain prospertiy for the whole year.

初一開始會有一連串的慶祝活動,像是放鞭炮、舞龍舞獅的表演等。有些家庭也會打打麻將娛樂,據說贏家可贏得新年發財的好兆頭。

The second day of the New Year is usually called the day of Hui Niang Jia, which means that married daughters should return to their parents' home. It is said that married daughters are forbidden to return home on New Year's day. If they break this rule, it is believed that they will bring poverty to the family.

大年初二是回娘家的日子,出嫁的女兒會在這天返家探視父母。據說結了婚的女兒不可以在初一當天返回父母家中,否則會讓娘家變窮。

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