|CHINESE NEW YEAR MASKS
The Chinese New Year traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar, and ends with the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. Each of the fifteen days id filled with activities, meals, and traditions that everyone is involved in. Some activities include different festivals and types of celebrations, such as parades (these parades developed when the Chinese first came to California) and dances. For each of the days, meals are planned and are of major focus in the festival. The Chinese people prepare elaborate meals that are significant to the New Year. These meals are centered on the idea of indulgence and then cleansing on the final fifteenth day. Traditions include decorations put up in homes, and costumes that are worn by many of the people.
One of the major aspects of the Chinese New Year is the focus on color. Decorations, costumes, and masks are all embellished with bold and striking colors. However, one particular color is used most through the celebration. Red is considered to be the “lucky color” for the Chinese people. Because of this, it is typically used in most decorations and costumes, usually accompanied with gold accents.
A significant piece of the costumes are the masks that are worn. “The Chinese masks that surface during the New Year season are exclusively used during that time of the year only. The general feeling generated by the Chinese masks during this festive season is that of happiness and joy.” The festival centers around a fresh and clean start for each individual, providing the sense of merriment during these fifteen days. This happy mood brings the Chinese people together to celebrate their culture and way of life.
“Chinese New Year is swathed in beliefs of gods, spirits of ancestors, legendary beings, good and/or evil, the dead, animal spirits, and other beings believed to have supreme power over humanity. Masks featuring such supreme powers are honored and are worn during the rituals surrounding the Chinese New Year, like lion dance or dragon dance.”
“Chinese New Year Masks are also hung around the homes as decorative.”
These masks that are such a major part of the festival are typically made of materials such as cloth, paper, grass, leather, metal, shell, and are carved of stone or wood. They are then painted with Chinese symbolic designs and vivid colors. “Some masks have realistic human or animal features like the lion or dragon, while others provide a grotesque appearance.” Those who wish to participate in the events usually wear the masks. However, the masks still hold purpose for those who do not wish to wear them, as they decorate the homes and still create this happy feeling.
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