Chinese culture is rich with symbols and customs which become even more relevant during important festivals like Chinese New Year and the Autumn festival. From plants and natural elements to animals, patterns, colours and sounds, symbolism is ever present during these important dates.
Clouds, for example, are considered lucky and so feature heavily in Chinese pictures and decorations. Created between earth and heaven, they symbolize the celestial realm and are symbols of celestial mobility. Many gods and immortals used the cloud as a vehicle on which they traveled. Scrolling clouds therefore are associated with deities, foretelling their arrival.
The mystic knot is one of many symbols for good luck. This knot consists of six infinity knots tied together and symbolises never-ending luck, prosperity, and abundance. They are prepared to decorate houses during the Chinese New Year and are used as gifts or decorations.
Usually made from silk, the most auspicious color to use is of course red as red is the luckiest colour of all, representing happiness, beauty, vitality, good fortune and success. In fact, during festivals such as the Chinese New Year everything from lanterns, firecrackers, clothing, to paper packets filled with money (hongbao) will be red, bringing good luck and keeping evil at bay.
Decorating the home with certain items is believed to bring good luck. For example, pussy willow plants are popular as they bud in the spring months, therefore signifying a new start and also because their Chinese name, yin liu, sounds like "money flowing in".
During the Chinese New Year, the sight of oranges and tangerines is hard to ignore. The citrus fruit has a deep symbolic meaning in Chinese context and tradition as it sounds similar to the word “luck” (tangerine) and “wealth” (orange), when spoken in Mandarin.
During the Autumn Festival it is the Chrysanthemum which is most prevalent. The chrysanthemum is a symbol of autumn and the flower of the ninth moon. It is a symbol of longevity because of its health-giving properties and is consumed in wine and tea for well-being purposes.
This year, 2022 is the year of the tiger, the third animal sign in the Chinese zodiac. The other eleven animals being the rat, ox, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Like their eponymous zodiac animal, people born in years of the Tiger are vigorous and ambitious, daring and courageous, enthusiastic and generous, self-confident with a sense of justice and a commitment to help others for the greater good.
Happy Chinese New Year!