When enthusiastic crowds appear in Chinatown, unending queues form in banks and in front of bak kwa stalls, and festive music suddenly graces the malls, we know that Lunar New Year is right around the corner! Like every other culture in the world, festivals and feasts are important markers of our ethnic identity. Nonetheless, as Chinese Christians, we can enjoy the Lunar New Year celebrations with greater joy and an eternal perspective because of the hope we have in Christ.
Spring Cleaning. Traditionally, Chinese families clean their homes thoroughly before the first day of the new year to get rid of bad luck from the past year. It is customary not to sweep on the first day of the Lunar New Year to prevent “sweeping” any good luck, or 福 (blessings ), away. However, in Christ, we can be assured that all eternal 福 have arrived, and He cannot be taken away from us (Rom 8:31-39). As we clean our homes this season, let us also clean our hearts for the Lord, asking Him to create in us a pure heart and a right spirit (Ps 53:10).
Reunion Dinner. The reunion dinner is the time when family ties and solidarity are reaffirmed. Family members will make every effort to come together for a bountiful meal together, believing that having an abundance of dishes will signify a year of wealth and abundance in the new year. However, we who have been adopted into the family of God by faith in Christ, must not forget our spiritual family through the blood of Christ, even as we reaffirm our ties with our family by blood (Gal 3:26-29). Let us also learn from the Jews, for whom every feast is a remembrance of what God has done for His people, and recall the goodness of God in our lives as we enjoy His abundant blessings.
Lunar New Year. During this season, Chinese families will visit friends and relatives and exchange mandarin oranges, 红包 (red packets ) and greetings. In a modern society like ours, this may be the only time that extended families get together and catch up on one another’s lives. This year, let us consider how we may show the hospitality of Christ. As Christine Pohl says, “A life of hospitality begins in worship, with a recognition of God's grace and generosity. Hospitality is not first a duty and responsibility; it is first a response of love and gratitude for God's love and welcome to us.” Let us open our homes to families, neighbours, and strangers, welcoming them into the love of God (Lk 14:12-14).