China’s New Year, More Than Just a Celebration
By Li Hong, New Tang Dynasty News, Beijing, February 8, 2024
As China’s population of 1.4 billion people prepares to celebrate the Chinese New Year, many may not be aware that there is a history of the festival being banned three times in the past 100 years. But what has been the impact of these bans on this much-loved holiday?
To understand the significance of these bans, it’s important to take a look back at ancient and modern Chinese history in order to regain the original essence of the Chinese New Year.
One point of contention is the name of the Chinese New Year itself, known as “Spring Festival.” Historically, the term New Year’s Day has always represented the first day of the first lunar month in China. However, after the Revolution of 1911, there were attempts to move the Chinese New Year to the Western New Year. This led to the coining of the term “Spring Festival” and an eventual shift to the Gregorian calendar.
The traditional celebration of the Chinese New Year was elaborate and rooted in ancient customs. However, the festival was banned three times in modern history. The first ban occurred in 1912 when Sun Yat-sen attempted to integrate the Chinese calendar with the Western calendar.
The second ban was implemented by the Nationalist Government in 1928 with attempts to abolish the Chinese calendar and move the celebration to the Western calendar. The third ban occurred during the Cultural Revolution in 1967, where traditional New Year customs and practices were condemned, leading to widespread cultural suppression.
As a result of these bans, the tradition and significance of the Chinese New Year were diluted. Where once people paid respects to gods and ancestors, traditional customs were eschewed for a more politicized celebration. The significance of the festival and its deep-rooted meaning in Chinese culture were lost.
Despite this, there is renewed interest in revitalizing the traditional customs and celebration methods of the festival, in an effort to preserve the core values of Chinese culture.
The Chinese New Year has a rich history dating back thousands of years, and as China resumes the celebration of this important holiday, it is an opportunity to reflect on the profound impact it has had on the country’s cultural heritage.