Cambodia has a fairly large population of people with Chinese roots, so last week saw countrywide celebrations of the Chinese New Year. The celebrations usually last one week and mark the start of spring.

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would come on the first day of the New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. Because of that, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors, and used fire crackers to scare the Nian away. From then on, Nian never came to the village again.

nianThe Nian

Even today windows and doors are still decorated with red lanterns and paper-cuts with popular themes of “good fortune”, “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”.

Shops selling accessories for the celebrations
Trees are decorated with lanterns
Spirit money and papers are burnt during the ancestor worship ceremony to bring happiness and wealth
Decorated doorway
More decorations

On the day before the New Year it is tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. In the evening families gather together for supper. Food will include pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will usually end the night with firecrackers, however unfortunately fireworks weren’t allowed this year for safety reasons.

Markets making a killing by selling thousands of pigs-or pig heads for that matter.

2012 marks the year of the dragon. Chinese consider that the dragon is unpredictable and untouchable. People cannot see its head and tail at the same time. Therefore, we might see something unexpected happening in 2012…

On that note Xīn Nián Kuài Lè or Happy New Year!

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

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