Respect builds up people and nation


CHINESE NEW YEAR’S DAY, also known as chun jie or Spring Festival in China and to Chinese emigrants in all parts of the world, falls on Feb 14 this year.

As Chinese everywhere, including ethnic Chinese worshipping in our churches in Singapore, celebrate this major Chinese festival, it is perhaps timely to remind ourselves what this festive event really means to us.

Many myths and legends related to folklore and superstitions have been added to how the festival was celebrated over the years, especially in ancient times in China where it originated.

But truly, it was originally just a simple occasion to celebrate the arrival of spring, the beginning of the four seasons to mark a new year in the lunar calendar, and we should take it as that.

Following the cold, dark winter, the Chinese look forward to springtime when everything starts to grow again and the birds and animals return from their winter refuge. Even in today’s modern world and in places where there is no climatic change, Chinese still welcome the festival as it gives them hope and a new life.

Apart from the superstitious practices associated with the festival that we should discard, there are positive points we can appreciate.

Let’s just look at three of them: Firstly, Chinese New Year is a time for reunions, among members of the family and with their relatives and friends as well. They do so in a reunion dinner on the eve of the new year while friends and relatives will visit one another during the festive period which lasts up to 15 days to renew their ties and exchange their well wishes.

Secondly, and more importantly, the festival promotes filial piety and respect for the elders, as children are encouraged to pay respects to their parents and elders by wishing them well on New Year’s Day. Some even do so by serving tea. Surely this is a virtue worth cultivating and in line with our Biblical teachings. The fifth commandment says, “Honour your father and your mother.”

Thirdly, cultivating respect for the elders also progressively leads to a respect for authority, a value which needs strengthening in this present day and age.

On this note, we wish all ethnic Chinese Methodists a happy and blessed Chinese New Year!