February 19-24, 2015, is the duration of this year’s Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) celebrations. Before the holiday is over, I’d like to share an interesting article on the Spring Festival designed to help anyone curious about the cultural significance of this most colorful of holidays. Among other things, you will read about fish, money-filled envelopes, the color yellow and door gods. Enjoy!
The following article was authored by and republished with the permission of Sean Upton-McLaughlin. Sean has lived and worked in Mainland China for six years. Through a strong command of the Chinese language and his experiences working with Chinese companies and executives, he has gained numerous insights into Chinese culture, society, behavior, and communication styles. For more of Sean’s writings on Chinese business and culture, please visit The China Culture Corner.
12 Important Symbols of the Chinese Spring Festival
- The Color Red: in Chinese culture the color red is closely associated with good fortune and happiness. It is a common theme throughout the Chinese Spring Festival, and many items are created partly or entirely in red colors, including clothing, firecrackers, and many types of decorations. In China, the importance of the color red is also linked to a beast called a “Nián (年)” which is said to have terrorized a village in ancient China on the first day of every New Year. The villagers eventually realized that the Nián was scared of the color red, and began using the color to decorate their houses when preparing for the coming of the new year. In addition to its usage during the Spring Festival, the color red is also commonly used in weddings, and when a new business opens.
- The Color Yellow: the color yellow was traditionally the symbol of the Chinese emperor, and even in modern society can be seen as denoting a higher status. While yellow is often viewed as a symbol of cowardice in Western societies, this bias does not exist in China as the color is a symbol of heroism. In China, the color yellow is also seen as symbolizing good luck. However, the color yellow should be used carefully by those not familiar with Chinese culture as in some circumstances it can refer to pornography or lewd behavior.
For the remaining 10 symbols, please visit 12 Important Symbols of the Chinese Spring Festival. 🙂
Till next time,
By the way, for some of my own personal experiences of Spring Festival in China, please see my last blog post Spring Festival In China, a Personal Story.