Wo Hing Museum sends Chinese New Year blessings: Kong Hee Fat Choy!
LAHAINA — The Chinese New Year (CNY) celebration has been a longstanding tradition at the Wo Hing Museum on Front Street and with the Chinese community of Lahaina. This year it falls on Friday, Feb. 12, and culminates on Feb. 26.
In 1991, the LahainaTown Action Committee first coordinated CNY at the museum. Around 1999, CNY became a big street festival with the closure of the 800 block of Front Street. By 2006, the celebrations were again held at Wo Hing, and since 2012 the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and Wo Hing Society have coordinated the CNY events.
“The Wo Hing Museum has been closed since March 2020 because of the pandemic,” said Dr. Busaba Yip, cultural director and docent at the Wo Hing Museum, Society Hall and Cookhouse.
“Unfortunately, this year, 2021, we will not have a CNY community celebration at Wo Hing or a Lion Dance in Lahaina Town. To keep the tradition alive, we will have an offering and blessings at the Wo Hing Temple during the week of Feb.12, as well as special decorations at the Cookhouse and Society Hall. When visitors walk past Wo Hing, they will view the beautiful red lanterns, CNY scrolls, banners and other decorations.”
To start the Year of the Metal Ox off right, the temple will be following the traditions beginning two weeks before New Year’s Day. They will prepare for the holiday by cleaning and putting up decorations at the Cookhouse and Society Hall with Nin Wah: new year hopeful messages and wishes on little red papers displaying the symbols for good luck, health and happiness.
“Inside the Wo Hing Cookhouse, we will offer some good luck candy and tangerines on an altar for the kitchen god, Joo Guan,” Yip noted.
“The Wo Hing Temple altars will be cleaned, and an offering to the ancestors will be made with oranges, pomelos, tangerines, potted flowers and other items. A special offering and display is set up for the CNY. For example, we will prepare a tray of sweetmeats called Chuen-Hop or Tray of Togetherness. It has eight compartments, each with a special food item significant to the season, such as candied coconut and melon.”
The Ox is the second in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac sign. Oxen were important for planting crops in an agricultural society. They embody stamina and dedication and are known for diligence, dependability, strength and determination. Having an honest nature, Oxen represent ideals and ambitions for life. They attach importance to family and work, representing persistence and honesty. The image of “planting the fields” in 2021 offers a way to prepare for prosperity and times of enjoyment.
CNY is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunar calendar. It is not only the longest-celebrated event but also the most important social holiday of the year.
It is called the Lunar New Year because it marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars. The Lunar New Year begins on the second new moon following the winter solstice and ends two weeks later on the full moon.
A solar year, the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun, lasts around 365 days, while a lunar year, or 12 full cycles of the Moon, is roughly 354 days. That is why the CNY falls on different dates each year in the solar calendar.
Throughout CNY, families reunite and relax together celebrating a year of hard work, They offer wishes of good luck, health and prosperity for the coming year.
Yip shared some good CNY memories from her childhood.
“It is really a time for new beginnings and gatherings,” she reflected. “We looked forward to our celebration by having dinners together with our family and friends. We each received a red envelope with money, called Lai See or Hong Bao. I also remember its teaching: it was for a good start in the new year. We were told not to spend the money from our first Lai See, but to keep the money for the future to take care of ourselves, our parents and grandparents. We learned about saving money and managing it wisely. CNY is always a time to reflect on our lives over the past year and to plan for the future.”
In conclusion, Yip said, “CNY is inclusive and has become popular with people of all nationalities and celebrated worldwide. We would like to send our best wishes and blessings for a good year, a Metal Ox year, and hope it brings positive changes for our lives, families, communities and the world. Kong Hee Fat Choy, may wealth and prosperity be yours; and Sen Nien Fai Lock, Happy New Year!”