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Meaning of New Year's Day

http://www.chinese.cn 16:22, December 27, 2010 Confucius Institute Online

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New Year, also known as 'the Solar Year' or 'the Gregorian Year', refers to January 1st in the Gregorian calendar commonly used all over the world. But before 1911, "New Year's day" referred to the 'Spring Festival' which is the new lunar year. New Year's Day is a statutory holiday in many countries and regions around the world.

In ancient China, the first day of a New Year was called 'New Year's day'which in Chinese was named as 'Yuan Dan' or yuanri, yuanchang, yuanshuo, yuanchun, etc., but the specific dates were different from each other before the beginning of the Western Han Dynasty. In the first year of TaiChu in the reign of the Emperor Hanwu in the Western Han Dynasty, Sima Qian created the 'Taichu calendaric system', in which the lunar New Year's Day was set to New Year's Day and used through ages from then on until the founding of the Republic of China.

After the western way (i.e. Christian era) of numbering years spread into China, January 1st was set as New Year's Day in the Republic of China. In 1949, a resolution by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference set January 1st as 'New Year's day' while the lunar New Year's day was from then on to be called the 'Spring Festival'. 'Yuan' in Chinese has the meaning of beginning, 'Dan' means daybreak or generally daytime. New Year's Day is the first day of a year's beginning. The Chinese word 'Yuan Dan' originally come from the verse 'the four seasons begin at the New Year's day and all things then come to be energetic.' from the poem "Jie Ya" by Xiao Ziyun in the Southern Dynasty.

In the first volume of Dream Collections by Wu Zimu in the Song Dynasty, the annotation of the word 'Zheng Yue' goes: "the first day of the first month of the lunar year means the New Year's day, generally called the New Year. It is the beginning of a year."; it was called 'Yuan Zheng' in the "Inscription on the Sanzi hairpin" by Cuiyuan in the Han Dynasty; "Yuan Cheng" in the "fu on Yangdu" by Yuchan in the Jin Dynasty; "Yuan Chun" in the The Ballad of Emperor Xia in a celebrating party in the Northern Qi Dynasty; and "Yuan Shuo" in the poem watch the troops rejoining their unit after being presented at court on the first day by the Emperor Lishi who was the DeZong of the Tang Dynasty. Yuan Dan has been referred to as the lunar New Year's Day from time immemorial.

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