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Why Chinese Christians celebrate the Chinese New Year
Written by arkwriter   
Friday, 23 October 2009 20:18

Why Chinese Christians

celebrate the Chinese New Year 

Paul Wong 

It was recorded that Chinese started to celebrate Chinese New Year from about 2000 BC, though the celebrations were held on different times under different emperors. They started to celebrate Chinese New Year on the first day of the lunar calendar based on Emperor Wu Di's almanac of the Han Dynasty.  

According to the universal calendar (to be more accurate, the Gregorian calendar) the New Year begins on January 1.  This year is supposed to be 2003 years after the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is based on the Christian (actually Roman Catholic) religion.  Is it then wrong to wish someone a "Happy New Year" because it is connected with religion?  Now let us go into the Chinese New Year that is popularly known as the "Spring Festival."  China was (still is in many parts) an agricultural country.  The New Year marks the beginning of Spring when the farmers prepare their seeds and the land for planting.  Originally, the Chinese New Year has no religious significance whatsoever.  It is true that pagan traditions were added in as time went on but Chinese Christians have been careful to separate purity from heathenism in their New Year celebrations. 

The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar (moon sightings) that is similar to the Biblical calendar.  "Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 'This month shall be the beginning of the months, it shall be the first month of the year to you." (Ex. 12:1-2)  "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night."  (Dt. 16:1)  Although God had pointed out to Israel the exact day to start their New Year, yet present day Jews all over the world celebrate their New Year on "Rosh Hashanah, "which literally means the head of the year, commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the world.   It is celebrated on the first and second days of the seventh Hebrew month, Tishri. Depending on the solar calendar, Rosh Hashanah occurs in September or October."  If Messianic Jews celebrate the Jewish New Year that is not commanded by God, Chinese Christians can certainly celebrate the Chinese New Year?  It is certainly good for them to do so.

Special Church Service may be held on New Year's Day 

"Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:  "On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.  You shall put in it the ark of the Testimony, and partition off the ark with the veil." (Ex. 40:1-3)   Chinese New Year marks the beginning of Spring and usually falls in February or March, and it is close to the first day of the Jewish month of Abib or NIssan.  This coming Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, February 1, 2003.   We are worshiping the One True God on the Sabbath day. 

 Start the New Year with a New and Clean LIfestyle 

Spring is the time when new plants appear.  The New Year is a good time to start a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Cor. 5:17)  Chinese people traditionally clean up their homes for the New Year.  On New Year's day they hide their brooms (vacuum cleaners) in closets.  Nobody does any manual work on that day.  It is very similar to the keeping of the Sabbath.  On New Year's day people wear new clothes and have a new attitude.  A few days before New Year barber shops and hair salons are packed because every man or boy wants a haircut, women and girls have their hair done.  This is not a bad tradition because it makes everyone look good and feel better on New Year's day. 

Start the New Year with planting Gospel Seeds 

Farmers in China prepare and plant new seeds on their land beginning in the New Year.  Christians can also do the same with the gospel seeds.  Start with your immediate family members, your relatives, friends, school or office friends.  Share the gospel with others.  Many Chinese congregations hold revival and spiritual renewal services to remind their faithful to recommit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is a good tradition that we all need. 

Chinese New Year is a Time for Family Reunions 

Chinese families are very closely knitted together.  It is a traditional custom for families to get together for a dinner/supper on New Year's eve.  This is very similar to the American tradition for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  If there are differences or quarrels amongst family members they reconcile or patch up their broken relationships by forgiving one another before the New Year so that they can sit together for the New Year dinner.  Mutual love, forgiveness and reconciliation is also a Christian teaching and practice.   

Chinese Christians, when they come over for the New Year Eve dinner/supper, give thanks for the bountiful blessings they have received in the past year and also ask the Lord to bless them for the coming year. This is one of the reasons why Chinese Christians celebrate their New Year because it can strengthen their faith in the One True God and also help them become better Christians.

Chinese New Year is a Time for Children

to Show Respect for their Elders 

Chinese Christian families teach children to honor and respect not only their parents but also their elders as well.  Younger children do not address their older siblings by personal names.  They call them "big brother" or "big sister."  Even today Chinese people still address an elderly man as "Uncle" and elderly woman as "Auntie."   

On Chinese New Year's day children first greet their parents at home with “Happy New Year” or “Kung Hei Fatt Choy” (May you be prosperous).  They  receive monetary gifts wrapped in red papers called "Hung Pau" (Cantonese for "Red Packets")  They visit their elderly relatives and will also receive “Hung Paus” from them. They also get to eat a lot of "goodies".   This Chinese New Year tradition is very instructive and delightful, and if perpetuated for generations will help people to respect their elders which is also taught in the Holy Bible. 

Have Financial Freedom before

the Chinese New Year begins 

Most Chinese Christian families are not wealthy by worldly standards, but many have financial freedom.  They have been able to not only live above poverty level but also live comfortably. The do it by not borrowing above their means or income.  One of the ways to achieve this is by following the traditional Chinese family practice of either “pay by cash” or if you have to buy on credit, pay the debts before the New Year.  Accumulated debt is a taboo in Chinese business. Businessmen settle their debts before the New Year otherwise their credit-rating will drop immensely.  It has been the traditional Chinese business practice for centuries.  Even the Holy Bible teaches us not to owe anyone anything (Rom. 13:8). 

In celebrating the Chinese New Year Chinese Christians have not compromised their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ nor lost their Chinese identity, but have maintained their good citizenship as Americans, Canadians or other western nationalities.  

May  God  bless  You 

This article was a presentation by Paul Wong

to the  ARK  Forum on January 28, 2003

                                    It was published on this Website on October 25, 2009

For comments please write to:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational.

Write to:
ARK International
P.O. Box 19707, Houston,
Texas, 77224-9707, U.S.A.
Tel. No. (713) 467-1462

 

 

 
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 October 2009 05:37