Chinese Ancient Traditions Revived In Global New Year Shows
By Gisela Sommer
Two years ago some Chinese friends of mine took me to NTDTV's (New Tang Dynasty TV) live Chinese New Year Spectacular. It was a thrilling and enchanting music and dance performance, with traditional Chinese instruments and costumes faithfully recreated from old manuscripts, paintings and pottery. The dragons, drums and dancers all evoked the grandeur of China's great dynasties and legends of remote history.
Ancient Chinese traditions speak of harmony between heaven and earth. They say that humans were created by Gods. Culture as well as moral and spiritual guidance were also imparted to humans by divine beings during different times in history. When humans respect the Tao, the "Divine Law or Way" and follow Heaven's order, society will be prosperous and peaceful.
Like most Westerners I knew next to nothing about the Chinese New Year. So I asked my friends to tell me more and share their favorite New Year's memories. I learned that Chinese New Year is actually celebrated by almost a quarter of the world's population in several Asian countries where it is the most important holiday of the year. It follows the Lunar calendar, and the date varies each year, depending on the moon's cycle.
Several friends shared about fire works and favorite foods–dumplings were often mentioned–and various traditions. One is to write poems or lucky phrases on red paper to be pasted around every family's door. After breakfast there would be a round of visits. The first stop would be at a local temple to burn incense and honor the gods. Next came visits to relatives and friends. In many towns musicians paraded through streets to announce the arrival of spring.
The Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year season. It evolved from the ancient belief of celestial spirits flying about in the light of the first full moon. Lanterns of many colors and shapes were lit during the night.
Maquiong, who grew up in a town near the Yangzi River, said, "Some communities would organize a lantern market. Usually, my mom would take us to watch the activities. Later she'd cook another good dinner which included dumplings filled with syrup, which symbolizes harmony in the family and sweetness of life."
She said that in recent years traditions like these have been changing in China. In big cities fireworks were forbidden, and people have New Year's dinner at restaurants. Also, many people exchange new year greetings by phone and don't visit each other so much anymore. "But in my memories," Maquiong said, "Chinese New Year always means having a good time."
"Traditional Chinese culture and spiritual traditions were destroyed and outlawed by the Chinese Communist Party," said Jason, a medical doctor. He said that the CCP smashed almost all the temples and burned the ancient manuscripts. Since coming to power in the late 40s, they have changed history books and brainwashed generations of Chinese with party culture, class struggle and Marxist ideology.
"Young people know nothing about true Chinese history or the deeper values of our ancient traditions," Jason said. "NTDTV and its annual global Chinese New Year Shows are instrumental in promoting a rebirth of traditional Chinese culture. The performances are magnificent and full of nobility."
The 2007 NTDTV New Year Spectacular will be touring Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, DC, plus major cities in Canada, Europe and Asia. http://shows.ntdtv.com
About the Author
Gisela Sommer has a degree in humanistic studies and psychology. She is an independent writer covering cultural events and human rights issues and has an interest in preserving cultural and spiritual traditon.
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