Posted by: coolerbecky | February 26, 2010

The Rest of the Fest

Continuing from our previous special on Chinese New Year and in the interests of cultural learning, Cooler Becky will now give a quick summary of the last 10 days of Chinese New Year.

Day 6
Clear-Water Master Day

In keeping with the whole celestial cycle thing that traditional Chinese culture has going on, this day is the day for honouring the god of pigs. It is also, apparently, the death anniversary of the Clear-Water Grand Master, a monk who prayed for rain many times during a drought in the Sung Dynasty. Therefore in order to combine the ideas of “clear water” and “god of pigs”, Chinese farmers will clean out the manure pits of their pig sties.

If you can handle the wailing high-pitched sounds of Chinese Street Opera, Day 6 of Chinese New Year is the best day to catch it. Most Operas will start on this day and continue for the next few days.

Day 7
Everyone’s Birthday

In Chinese culture, you are as old as how many Chinese New Years you have passed in your life. To be precise, the actual count is the number of the 7th days of Chinese New Year you have passed in your life. Mythologically speaking, the Chinese creation story states that humans were created (and taught how to reproduce) by a goddess with a snake body on the 7th day1.

The most traditional way of celebrating this day is to eat seven different vegetables for one’s health. Nowadays, however, people celebrate this by eating potatoes with noodles.

Day 8
Completion Day

If you haven’t gone back to work on the 5th day of Chinese New Year, then you should go back to work now. This day is a day of completion. That is to say, all leftovers of the celebrations thus far must be consumed. Otherwise, it’s business as usual. Very little celebrating takes place on this day.

Also, it is the birthday of one of the Chinese kings of hell. Apparently, he doesn’t do much on his birthday either, presumably because his underlings are throwing him a party2.

Day 9
Jade Emperor Day

According to Taoist scripture, Day 9 of Chinese New Year is the birthday of the Chinese mythos’ biggest bigshot, the Jade Emperor. In celebration of this all-important birthday, the feasting begins again in earnest with long noodles, green tea, fruit, dry vegetables, meat and turtle-shaped sweet cakes. As expected, temples dedicated to the Jade Emperor usually overflow with worshippers on this day, most of which will ask for longevity and safety.

Day 10
More Jade Emperor Day

As the Jade Emperor is the biggest bigshot in the Chinese mythos, his birthday gets to be celebrated over two days.

Day 11
Break Day

Unless there are still some leftovers from the feast on Day 9, most Chinese people will take a break on this day. If not, they will invite their sons-in-law and daughters to their homes to help finish the feast.

Day 12
Stomach Problems Day

After 11 days of eating greasy, rich foods, most Chinese people have… issues… with their stomachs on this day. This is such a problem that the entire day is set aside in order to deal with said… stomach issues.

Thankfully, Cooler Becky did not get into the spirit of things on this day and maintained good health.

Day 13
General Kwan Yew Day

The celebrations continue with the General Kwan Yew’s death anniversary celebration. General Kwan Yew was a famous general whose most famous feature was his red face. That is to say, the general was famous for dyeing his face red, presumably to scare off his enemies in battle – a tactic which proved so effective that the general continued to use it after death to scare evil spirits away from the homes of his friends.

One would think that the festivities would be over after the fiasco of Day 12, but rather than stop the celebrations altogether, most Chinese people will simply eat simple foods on this day.

Day 14
Lantern Decoration Day

Day 14 of Chinese New Year is a day of preparations for the celebration’s grand finale – the Lantern Festival.
If you’re into crafts, this is the day for you – all lanterns for the festival have to be constructed (or purchased) on this day. Most modern lanterns are made out of cellophane and wire. However, if you’re particularly interested in the ancient art of lantern crafting, you can make it out of tissue-papers. The lanterns come in various shapes and sizes, but most commonly will be crafted in the shape of the zodiac animal representing the year.

Day 15
The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is an evening event. It’s also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. During this festival, lanterns are hung about in town squares and other central meeting points. The hanging lanterns provide a rather romantic backdrop for young couples and many a romantic period drama is set with this festival as a backdrop. Most lanterns are painted with a traditional riddle in order to add to the atmosphere and provide the couples with a talking point.

At a suitably late hour, the festivities are brought to a close with a fireworks display, concluding the 15 days of Chinese New Year.

1Apparently, the goddess was busy making other farm creatures such as chickens, cows and dogs prior to her creation of humans. Oddly enough, the creation of snakes was not one of her priorities. She must have really liked farms.
2He must have a hell of a time at it!


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