Friday, December 19, 2008

"Chinese" Christmas?

Everybody knows that Chinese New Year does not fall exactly on January 1 of the Gregorian calendar. It usually falls between January and February. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese calendar follows the waxing and the waning of the moon rather than the revolution of the sun around the earth.

Of course it follows that the Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the year, as defined by the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

There is a misnomer, though. We sometimes hear of people talking about "Chinese" Christmas. It's usually defined as the day before Chinese New Year. However, since Christianity is not a dominant religion among Chinese, there is actually no reason for them to set aside a special day for Christ's birth. Chinese Catholics and Christians would celebrate Christmas on December 25, like the rest of the world.

I think the confusion lies in the fact that the term used by the older Chinese for Christmas and New Year's Eve (Ni Tao in the Fukien dialect) is the same. Also, Filipinos tend to think that New Year follows Christmas, and if there's a Chinese New Year, there MUST be a Chinese Christmas. And why not? They probably see their Chinese friends making a big issue out of the Chinese New Year's celebrations, with good food, ang paos, tikoy, wearing the color red -- a celebration much awaited by the Chinese Filipinos with the same degree as the Filipinos await their Christmas Day with the noche buena celebration. :)

So for the record, I'm Catholic and I'm also Chinese Filipino. We celebrate Christmas Day on December 25. Chinese New Year is another celebration entirely.