Jan 26, 2006

Chinese New Year in Christian Context

I am reading through the booklet with the flow of the Mass on Chinese New Year, as I will be assisting in the Mass that morning. There is a piece of attachment I have never seen before. Found it to be quite informational. It seems to be a message from a priest or a bishop. No names though.
The celebration of the Chinese New Year is accompanied with rich traditions and customs which are indeed very meaningful if taken seriously, as they embody real values. It is in a way regretable that these customs and traditions are being gradually abandoned by many among the younger generations.

The focus in Chinese New Year is very largely on the family. Much like the Western celebration of Christmas and New Year, it is very much a family celebration. The traditional reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year has very much the importance of the Christmas gathering. Then there is the very important offering of respects to the parents by the children, the visits to various members of the family and the exchange of gifts.

All these customs are very rich in significance and have a useful and educative value if observed and explained particularly to the children. But like the celebration of Christmas and New Year, the celebration of the Chinese New Year can also degenerate into just another occasion for feasting and general merry-making unless a conscious effort is made to put real meaning into the various customs. The Chinese family should certainly seize the opportunity to instruct the children in family values.

As for the rest of the populace, Chinese New Year, like all the other cultural festivals, can serve as a good occasion to promote friendliness that transcends racial and cultural boundaries. We in Malaysia, and in Sarawak in particular, are indeed fortunate that the multi-cultural composition of our population has enabled us to grow up in an environment that fosters mutual respect for and acceptance of others who are not of the same race. This is something which we in Sarawak, perhaps take for granted, but which a good number of other countries would gladly welcome among the members of their populace. Hopefully, festivals like the Chinese New Year can be enriched by meaningful celebrations and in our context even 'christianized'!

Also read: Chinese New Year in Christian Context (2) 
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