The Meaning of a Brand New Year

By Christina Kim - February 17, 2016


The start of Spring is widely celebrated by the Chinese community; a warm welcoming festive season marked as Chinese New Year.

It is traditionally observed as the beginning of a new year; inaugurated by the change of calendar for the occasion.

The origins of the Chinese New Year is based on the legend of the Nian monster; which has been passed on for generations. Everyone knows of it, and if you don't, this is the summary of the legend:

The Nian monster is a hideous creature which appeared at a local village; threatening the lives and safety of the villagers. It would appear every year, on the eve of the New Year, and would attack and eat the animals and the young children.
The villagers would have to flee their homes to avoid the monster.
In protest and fury to drive away the monster from their homes to restore their peaceful lives, the villagers came up with a plan to scare the monster.
It is believed that the monster fears loud noises, brightness, and the color red.
The villagers combined all the three elements in preparation for the beast's next visit; with the loud clanging sounds from instruments (gong and cymbals), along with firecrackers and fully lit up their houses while dressing their homes with red at the same time.
The plan worked and it was said that the Nian never returned.

The legend was also believed to lead to the origin of the Lion Dance and is also behind the many traditions practised in the festive celebration.

The Chinese New Year festival is the most important celebration observed by the Chinese community; simply because it marks the beginning of a brand New Year.
It is just the same as the modern day Gregorian Calendar; where the New Year is marked by the 1st of January.

(Chinese New Year 2016 falls on the 8th of February)

The brand New Year is a symbol of new beginnings; understandably so due to the change of the date and the year on the calendar.
A new beginning brings a feeling of hope and anticipation.
It is one of joy that one is able to start anew and cast the unhappiness from the past year behind.

New Year is about starting fresh and from the beginning all over again.
It is just like holding on to a remote control and pressing the Reset button.
That feeling of being able to restart everything as though from zero, is the feeling which brings about that joy and excitement leading to the need for celebration.

From spring cleaning one's home to clear away the old and bad stuffs, to replacing them with the new and preparing gifts for one another in anticipation to the much-waited reunion during the festive season, it is all about changing and making way for the new.

It is all about good wishes and greetings; uttering words of good will in the hope of better fortune, luck, joy and improvement in the new year.
Nothing bad or negative is allowed.
It is all about the good for a better year ahead.

Take all that and there is only one word to summarize it all; CHANGE.

A change from the old to the new; a change of the calendar year and a change for the better.
The Change is for Hope, Good and Improvement.

However, is that truly what is being practised in the celebration?

The brand New Year; or Chinese New Year, or even any festival that marks new beginnings are not just about donning on new clothes, exchanging greetings of goodwill or even reuniting with families and friends while enjoying the good food (which are also marked with auspicious meanings as well by the way).

We are celebrating a NEW YEAR where everything is RESET to the beginning.
It is a NEW Beginning.
It is NEW Hope.
It is about making a CHANGE.
It is about looking forward to improving for the BETTER.

That change is not only external; where we look fabulously dressed in new and good looking clothes.
We make that effort to clean up our houses; to clear the old stuffs to welcome our relatives and friends as they visit, we bake cookies to welcome them and we buy gifts, new clothes and ornaments to decorate the houses. 
We make an effort to make sure we are all dolled up in our best and new outfits (probably spending a fortune on it) and even to the extent of changing hairstyles; hair color and even putting extra care into our personal appearances.
It is all about making a good impression by looking our best; because when we feel our best when we look our best.

But truly, are those really the only New we incorporate into our preparations every year?

What about ourselves?
What about that person inside you?
Have YOU yourself changed for the better, or even making that change; instead of just making resolutions?

A NEW You doesn't mean a new hairstyle, or a brand new wardrobe, or even a new car/house, etc.
These are all namely materials surrounding us.

That YOU is all inside; it is that Heart and that mind that need to Change for the better.

Get rid of the OLD and bad habits.
Throw away that negative attitude inside you.
Make amendments for the wrongs you have done.
Make yourself think of the ways you could improve better.

Most of all, be true to yourself.
You don't have to tell others about what you intend to change or about your vices.
You could probably even say you don't have anything negative and that there are only minor habits to reform.
It is only you who knows yourself best.

You could lie to the whole world, but you could never lie to yourself.

I am not preaching this because I am perfect.
I am just sharing my thoughts for it comes with my own journey of learning and experiences.

As children, we would often look forward to the festive season because admit it, children are always looking forward to holidays as it is all about having fun.
Our parents would tell us about starting anew; well, the whole world and traditions are supposedly leading to new beginnings but how many truly do make that effort to change?

Sure, there are always resolutions, but they would probably fizzle out after a while.
Human beings are just like that, and there is nothing to feel sorry about because it is just a norm.

Don't expect everything to change just with the change of a calendar, but the WILL to change is what's important.
The WANT to change must come from within.
It does not come automatically with the brand new clothes we put on or those auspicious fortune cookies and tossing that "Yee Sang" high up in the skies along with families and friends.

When you put away all those things after that, can you look at the mirror and see a brand NEW YOU?

A different and Better YOU from the year before, which you have discarded everything bad during your cleaning?

Did you discard YOUR own bad habits and negative attitude along the trash as well?

Spring cleaning is not just for the house but also for ourselves.

Clean up our hearts and minds, and reflect on the past year.
Learn from the bad experiences rather than mull over it, and take the learnings from the good.

Inspire others to change as well, and just start by doing good for one another.

You don't have to change the world immediately, but just like that small pebble thrown on the surface of the water.
Imagine if every single one of us make a tiny change to be a better person and treat each other the way we would our own loved ones, wouldn't that make the world a much better place to live in?
Just like that pebble cast on the water; creating that ripple effect.

We look forward to every year to celebrate New Beginnings and join in the festivities with our loved ones, hoping for a better year than the year before.
Why not MAKE a Better year rather than just hoping?

There are 12 zodiacs as observed by the Chinese beliefs; that already gives us 12 different years to make better changes, and don't forget it is a repetitive cycle.

The NEW YEAR is festive and it is lovely to be enjoying the celebrations, but when the change extends beyond what is seen on the surface and comes from within, that is when the celebration is truly meaningful; for it is no longer just a celebration of a New Year, but also a New and Better YOU.

That is when the Auspicious and Happy New Year brings the true meaning of joy and improvement.

It is way better than just putting on a new suit, for there is another aspiring and hopeful heart in there.
(I am definitely starting on my own change as well, because I have many "old flaws" to move out of that closet inside. The cleaning process will take time, but I want it out)

As we continue to celebrate the arrival of the Monkey Year, May the fiery wit, intelligence and passion of the Fire Monkey fuel your desire for improvement and inspire others to do the same for a truly GOOD and WONDERFUL YEAR for the WORLD.

May everyone have a meaningful and FANTASTIC YEAR indeed.



*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
Please kindly ask for permission if you need to use any of my images.

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