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Monday, March 9, 2009

LESSON 09 P1 --- The Chinese New Year


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THE CHINESE NEW YEAR

The Muslims follow the Hijri calendar. The first month is Muharram, which begins on the sighting of the moon. However, there comes a difference of ten days each year because the moon completes its revolution round the earth in shorter time than the sun.
The Hindus celebrate the seasons and their festivals are connected with seasons of the year like spring, harvest time or the beginning of the rains.
The Christian calendar (Gregorian Calendar) always stars on the 1st of January and ends on the 31st of December each year.
Although the Chinese follow the English calendar as do all other people in the world. But according to the old Chinese traditions they have a cycle of twelve years, which is followed in the Chinese society only.
Each year is given the name of one of these animals rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog and tortoise. This cycle is completed in twelve years and then starts again. For example, if 1988 was the dragon year, the next year, that is,1989 would be the snake year and so on.
Each Chinese month starts on the day of the new moon so that the full moon comes on the fifteenth day of the month. There are 29 or 30 days I n each lunar month. They also have 12 months in a year and the new year always starts between January, the twenty first, and February, the twentieth.
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Before the New Year Day, some traditional Chinese families clean out their houses very carefully. The female family members make many kinds of cakes and other sweet dishes. Everybody buys new clothes for the family feast on the New Year's Day. The Chinese people believe and hope that the sweet sticky juice cake will keep their kitchens stored with a lot of bread, rice and other food cereals.
The religious Chinese go to the temples to burn incense and other fragrant sticks and make offerings to their gods. Inside the hose, bright red banners are stuck on the walls, saying, "May the whole family love in peace! And also, "May the rice jars be filled to the top with rice!"
Red is a favourite colour with the Chinese. They believe that red colour is for life, strength and valour.

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On the new year's Eve, there is a big family dinner. All the family members are invited to this dinner and are supposed to be present there for the great meal. Even if they have to travel many miles to reach the home of their parents, the Chinese do gather to have the meal with their older generation.
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Old quarrels and petty disputes are forgotten. Everybody tries to be the first one to forget quarrels and welcome the members of the opponent family. Soon, all the differences are forgotten. The Chinese believe that all debts must be paid on the last day of the y ear.
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After the dinner, the children keep awake to welcome the New Year. Some people think that the parents will live longer if their children keep awake to greet the New Year. The lights switched on the New Year's Eve remain on for three to four days as good omen.
The New Year celebrations last for fifteen days from the new moon to the full moon. On the first day, the children and unmarried people go to visit their elders, and greet them with wishes for a happy, prosperous life. Often they give a cup of tea to their elders and receive red packets containing money.'
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The first meal on the New Year must not contain any meat. After the meal is over, people go to the temples to pray for peace, good health and give thanks for the happiness of the past y ear. Parents do not scold their children on the first day of the new year, and avoid quarrels so that the new year may be a happy one.
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The Chinese people believe that the whole year will be as good or as bad as New Year's Day and the harsh or rude words on this day will bring a bad year for them.
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The house must not be swept out on this day, otherwise all the good luck will be swept away.
On the second day of the year there is a lot of fun and friends' visits. Shops are opened on the second or the fourth day but remain closed on the third day and people stay at home. They think that opening of shops on the third day will bring bad luck.
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There is a great feast on the seventh day. The Chinese believes that the man came into the world on the seventh day, so this is a birthday for everybody. People serve raw fish with vinegar and spices on the seventh day.
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On the fifteenth day or the day of the full moon, fire crackers are lit to frighten away evil spirits. In the evening young girls throw oranges into the sea or river. As they do this they say a silent prayer that will help them find a good husband.
The young men throw dried carrots into the river and pray that they find a good wife. The full moon shines on the land of the Chinese where the celebrations come to an end at midnight.
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EXERCISES
Q:1
Write short answers to the questions below.
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i) Name the animals the Chinese years are named after.
Ans: The Chinese years are named after 12 animals. Their names are rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey.
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ii) If 2002 was a horse year, what name will be given to the year 2003?
Ans: The year 2003 will be a goad year.
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iii) When does each o f the Chinese month start?
Ans: Each Chinese month starts on the day of the new moon.
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iv) How many days are there in each lunar month?
Ans: There are 29 or 30 days in each lunar month.
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v) When does the new year start?
Ans: The new year always starts between January the twenty first and February the twentieth.
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vi) What do some of the traditional families do before the New Year's Day?
Ans: Before New Year's Day, some traditional Chinese families clean out their houses very carefully. The female family members make many kinds of cakes and other sweet dishes. Every body buys new clothes for the family feast on the New Year Day.
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Q:2 Read the lesson carefully and answer the following questions.
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i) Where do the religious Chinese go and what do they do there?
Ans: The religious Chinese go to the temples to burn incense and other fragrant sticks and make offerings to their gods.
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ii) Which is the favorite colour of the Chinese? What does this colour mean to them?
Ans: Red is a favorite color with the Chinese. They believe that red colour is fore life, strength and valour.
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iii) Describe the New Year's Eve and the special functions on that day.
Ans: On the New Year's Eve (last day of the year) there is a big family dinner. All family members are invited to this dinner and are supposed to be present there for the great meal. Even if they have to travel many miles to reach home of their parents, the Chinese do gather to have the meal with their older generations.
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iv) Do people keep the old grievances and quarrels in mind on the last day of the passing year?
Ans: Old quarrels and petty disputes are forgotten on that day.
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v) How many days do the celebrations last?
Ans: The New Year celebrations last for fifteen days from the new moon to the full moon.
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vi) What do the Chinese believe and do on the first meal of the New Year?
Ans: The female family members make many kinds of cakes and other sweet dishes. The Chinese people believe and hope that the sweet sticky juice cake will keep their kitchens stored with a lot of bread, rice and other food cereals.
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vii) Why is the fifteenth day or the full moon celebrations so special, especially for the young, unmarried people?
Ans: On this day the young, unmarried people say a silent prayer for their life partner. Young girls throw oranges and the young men throw dried carrots into the sea or river and pray to find a good life partner.
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viii) Why are children happy on New Year Day? Give three reasons?
Ans: The children are very happy on the New Year's Day for the following reason:
i) They get new clothes.
ii) They get many kinds of cakes and other sweet dishes to eat.
iii) They receive money from their parents.
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