Chinese New Year Traditions

It is hard to believe that this is the third year I have been in China and I have traveled to China several times over the last decade, but I have never really celebrated Chinese New Year. There have been times in the past (while I was living in the USA) that I would travel to Raleigh North Carolina for a Chinese New Year celebration, but I wouldn’t say that I actually celebrated it. Last year was the closest time I celebrated Chinese New Year, but we still didn’t celebrate it to the same degree. This year, we have done something that I thought was a really cool idea and very traditional in China. A special part of Chinese tradition is the process of hanging 对联 duìlián around your home’s door during Chinese New Year, which is a long piece of red paper with a Chinese blessing writing on it in beautiful calligraphy.

I have always been a fan of writing and reading Chinese characters (even though I cannot write a lot of Chinese, but give me a cell phone that can type in Pinyin and I’m a beast LOL), this was one of the most special things I have done in China. My family and I are Christian, my wife had the idea to look on the internet for a blessing 对联 duìlián to use during the Chinese New Year that had a Christian message written on it. Surprisingly there were a couple of these Christian oriented duìlián on Taobao, but we waited too late to order one. Taobao employees and a lot of delivery companies were already on holiday. Long story short, we had the idea to buy two in Hong Kong, but the Christian stores I usually go to did not have any. One employee at this one Christian store I have been traveling to every time I am in Hong Kong (located in Shatin 沙田, Elim- you can Google it) mentioned that I should have someone make it for us in Mainland China! I thought this was a really unique idea! Though I didn’t know if it would be possible, a lot of Chinese are moving away from these traditional practices and just buying mass produced things, but I thought we might have a chance since we live in an ancient village 沙湾古镇, Shawan Ancient Village.

After walking around for a while, we found a little market that opened up specially for the Chinese New Year. There was one man who was writing personalized duìlián and we found out that he has been writing traditional Chinese characters like this for over forty years! He definitely was a master at writing Chinese characters and he wrote them with such ease. We gave him two Christian blessings in Chinese and he copied them down for us. It was also a chance of us sharing a bit of our testimony and the Gospel with some people in a very uniquely Chinese way. As we were waiting for him to finish and the paint to dry, dozens of Chinese walked by to read what the old man was writing. Several people asked Elizabeth and me what the sayings meant. One of the blessings we had the man write were referring to the Beatitudes in Matthew and the old man told her something like- “in Chinese tradition we have five blessings we include on these duìlián, but you Christians have eight!”. We thought this was kind of funny but we told them a little about the 8 Beatitudes mentioned in the Bible.

It was truly a blessing and it touched my heart. It gave me a renewed spark to minister to the Chinese people and made me realize that my job here isn’t quite done. Please remember China and the Chinese people in prayer during the next week (and longer if you can). Christianity in China is going through some new hardships and we need to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ. God bless you all and Happy Chinese New Year!

~ by branhow on February 5, 2019.

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