The symbols, traditions and festivals of the Chinese New Year are deeply rooted in more than 5,000 years of human civilisation, culture, mores and beliefs. The Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days and most Chinese households will observe traditional celebrations and practices.
Unfortunately, some of our Chinese New Year celebrations focus too much on our temporal earthly life and tangible success. Chinese Christians, much as they value their culture, must seek to understand its symbolism and be careful to avoid religious elements that do not accord with Holy Scripture.
We must put God first, before our culture, while at the same time honouring God in the enjoyment of our cultural heritage. We must not contaminate our celebration with materialistic or religious beliefs and practices that are unedifying or displeasing to God.
Let us consider a few of the pitfalls.
Chinese lunar calendar
The Chinese generally have adopted the Western calendar since 1911, but the lunar calendar, based on astrology and the cycles of the moon, is still used for festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year.
Astrology is one of China’s most ancient philosophies – perhaps more than 3,000 years old. It claims to predict what will happen to people, countries, economic trends, conflicts and much more.
It is good to show love and filial piety, and giving ang pows is acceptable as long as we understand them as gestures of love and appreciation rather than symbols of an unhealthy preoccupation with wealth.