Saturday, February 16, 2008

9th day of the CNY

The ninth day of the New Year is a day to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven. This day is traditionally the birthday of the Jade Emperor and is especially important to Hokkiens and Teochews. At the stroke of midnight on the eighth day of the Chinese New Year, Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven. Offerings will include sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that had protected the Hokkiens from certain extermination generations ago. Tea is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honored person as well.

The Birthday of the Jade Emperor falls on the ninth day. The Jade Emperor is also known as the Yu Huang Ta Ti, identified as the God of Heaven by the majority of Chinese. He is said to have been born several millennia before our era as the offspring of the king and queen of the kingdom. The people of Chuanchou observed the ninth day of the first moon as the birthday of Heaven whilst the people of Amoy observed the same day as the birthday of Yu Huang.

The 10th to the 12th days are seen as good days also to host friends and relatives for dinner.

By the 1860’s, the Chinese who came to share a bit of the California Gold Rush were eager to share their culture with those who were unfamiliar with it. They chose to showcase their culture by using a favorite American tradition — the Parade. Nothing like it had ever been done in their native China. They invited a variety of other groups from the city to participate, and they marched down what today are Grant Avenue and Kearny Street carrying colorful flags, banners, lanterns, and drums and firecrackers to drive away evil spirits. Today, Chinese New Year parades are annual traditions across North America and other part of the world.

In Singapore, The Chinese New Year Parade is called Chingay, and was held the 16th of February around City Hall MRT station, and has some origin from Penang, Malaysia. During over 4 hours, floats, and costumed actors went over the streets of Singapore and stopped at different places along the tour for a quick and choreograph spectacle. Among the 15+ floats that were announced, I barely viewed the Lions Dance crowd, the Dark Vador, The Miss Singapore and another local band from the local university. The one that I whish I had been closer to be delighted for its colors were the Chinese traditional dancing close second to the Indian stick dance. My camera could not pass the many body layers that separate me from the show, and could only capture occasional colors with sporadic lights.