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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Origins of Chinese New Year : from Edmond Tay




Chinese New Year Originated from Africa

I would like to share with you a rather interesting observation on the origins of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The origins seem to have started in Africa.  Is that shocking to you?  Just hang on and read on.

The mythology about the Chinese New Year has it that on the New Year eve, a monster called "Nian" lurks outside your house waiting to devour you when you come out.  That is why you are supposed to stay at home and partake the "Family Reunion Dinner".  On the exterior doorposts you paste "Red Paper with Words of Blessing" and a "Red Cloth over the lintel(upper frame) to frighten Nian away, because Nian is fearful of red colour.  Then at midnight, "Nian will pass over" or go away from your house.  The people then come out of their house to celebrate the “passing over of Nian” by praying to the God of Heaven and burning crackers.  The crackers will frighten Nian further away.  The event of Nian passing over is called "Guo Nian ", marks the beginning of the New Year.

Now if you go back to the Bible in the time of Moses when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt; Moses was called by God to tell the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go the desert to worship God.  Each time the Pharaoh refused, God would punish Pharaoh and the Egyptians by sending plagues.  Finally God gave Pharaoh the ultimatum that if Pharaoh refused one more time, God will send his angel of death to visit Egypt at midnight and all the firstborn including the animals in Egypt would die.

But God prescribed the antidote for the Israelites with the following instructions:

1.      You are to stay indoor, kill a male lamb in each family and roast the lamb and eat every part of it with bitter herb. (And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.) Ex:12:8
2.      The lamb’s blood is to be painted on the doorposts and the lintel, so that when the angel of death visits Egypt at midnight and seeing the blood painted doorposts and lintel, he will pass over your house and you and your household will be saved.
(And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.) Ex:12:7
3.      And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. Ex:12:29
4.      Tomorrow you will pack up your belongings and depart for the desert and worship God. (We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us.
And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.) Ex:8:27,28

Now can you see the parallel?

1.      The reunion dinner and the eating of the lamb in the house.
2.      The red paper and cloth and the lamb's blood on the door post and lintel.
3.      Nian passing over at midnight and the death angel passing over at midnight.
4.      The Chinese came out to pray to the God of Heaven at midnight, while the Israelites the following day left for the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD God.

The Jewish Passover Feast is a celebration of liberation from their slavery in Egypt.  There is a great possibility that the Chinese New Year was borrowed from the Jewish Passover.  And since the whole story begun in Egypt and Egypt is in the African Continent, it follows that the origins of the Chinese New Year is from Africa.


ChunJie and Passover Spring Festival


The Chinese New Year is known as ChunJie which means Spring Festival in Mandarin. But the New Year usually takes place some time during late January or middle of February. This year it falls on 23 January.

What I find anomalous is that neither the end of January nor beginning of February is anywhere near Spring, and yet it is called the Spring Festival. This year the Passover is 6 April to 13 April. Could it be that the ‘Spring Festival’ term is borrowed from the Jewish term, ‘Hag HaAviv’ meaning ‘the Spring Festival’, which is the Passover.

And whilst the Jewish Passover is celebrated beginning on the 15th day of the month, the Chinese celebrate their New Year for 15 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival. Again, the similarity of 15th and 15 days. Could ancient communication suffered some distortions, when 15th day was mistaken for 15 days?



Reference:

Passover has several different names in the Torah.  The name Hag HaAviv, “the spring festival,” refers to the holiday's agricultural roots.  The term Pesach refers to the paschal offering on the fourteenth day of Nisan.  The lamb was eaten on the first night of the holiday, which today is the night of the first seder.  The term Hag HaMatzot, “the matzah festival,” refers to the entire holiday during which leavened bread is not eaten.



Ex:12:18: In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

De:16:1: Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.

Nu:9:11: The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Nu:28:17: And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.

4 comments:

Stories From The Air said...

You know who is the chicken and who the egg, meh?

boh tong said...

ya lor cos Edmond always eat eggs and chicken...lol

Anonymous said...

Most Plausible explanation for CNY origin.

Anonymous said...

Anyone find that it's interesting that the Chinese written history started around the time of Moses? Perhaps, the Shang Dynasty was one of the lost tribes of Israel. Maybe from the tribe of Dan, therefore, explains the lion dance on Chinese New Year.