Happenings

CNY: A Christian perspective Adapted from an article in the Chinese Annual Conference News, first published in January 2006.

Feb 2014    

Chinese New Year (CNY) is an important festival in the Chinese calendar – the beginning of the lunar year symbolises the act of “starting over”, with renewed hopes for happiness and prosperity. It is also a time to renew ties with family and friends, through family reunion dinners and social visits.

However, celebrations are traditionally marked by religious ceremonies or rituals in honour of “Heaven” and “Earth”, and the household gods and ancestors. As Chinese Christians continue to celebrate CNY to maintain their ethnic identity, how can they remain true to their faith in Christ?

Here are some Christian reinterpretations of traditional symbols associated with CNY.

Spring Cleaning: As Christians clean their houses, it is a good time for them to evaluate their lives in light of their commitment to Christ.

Spring Couplet: Vertical red banners with characters are placed at doorways. Instead of “auspicious words”, they can be infused with Christian messages of thanksgiving and God’s blessings.

New Clothes: The practice of buying new clothes can spark gratitude to God for His abundant provision for us. (Romans 5:17)

Feasting: While feasts often accompany joyous celebrations, let us not abuse our bodies – temples of the Holy Spirit – through overindulgence. May we also remember the Christian virtue of hospitality, especially for those less fortunate.

Feasting: While feasts often accompany joyous celebrations, let us not abuse our bodies – temples of the Holy Spirit – through overindulgence. May we also remember the Christian virtue of hospitality, especially for those less fortunate.

Oranges: The Cantonese word for “orange” sounds like gold. As we exchange oranges, let us remember that gold also symbolises a genuine faith. (1 Peter 1:7)

Red packets or Ang Pow: These cash gifts in red envelopes are given to those below and above us in “position”. Likewise, let us remember those who have served us faithfully, and also the Lord, to whom ultimate respect is due.

Ancestors: While Chinese Christians worship the one true God rather than their ancestors, we do not dishonour or neglect our family or ancestors. Scripture clearly calls us to respect those who came before us, and to honour our parents. (Exodus 20:12)

Picture by Liang Zhang/Bigstock.com

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