No Liquor, No Spring Festival
In traditional sense, Chinese New Year is much more than just eating dumplings, watching the Spring Festival Gala Evening, or setting off firecrackers.
In ancient China, when to begin the New Year varies with culture and regime. According to traditional Chinese calendar, the Xia Dynasty took the 1st month and the Shang Dynasty took the 12th month as the beginning of the year. They seemed to believe that a new dynasty must have a New Year different from the previous dynasty; with a brand new year, a new regime could really begin and people could have truly a new life.
Chinese people always believe that spring is the actual beginning of a year because spring symbolizes the beginning of life. Therefore, the Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival. As it represents the beginning of life, when promoting life growth, the negative energy that hinders growth should be driven away as well. In the Wei Jin Dynasties, early in the morning on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month, the magistrate of every country would kill sheep and chicken, and then hung the sheep’s head and chicken on the city gate to drive away evil.
Either to release animals or drive away evil needed a ritual and liquor is inseparable for various rituals since ancient times. In this sense, liquor has profound connections with Chinese New Year. For over 2,000 years, liquor appears in every Chinese New Year. Without liquor, China’s Spring Festival will be colourless.
According to historical records, on every Spring Festival, the Zhao people in Handan City dedicate not only doves but also liquor vessels to the king. The king would fill all these vessels with fine liquor and then hold a ceremony to celebrate the New Year. During the Spring Festival, the king would also raise his officials’ salaries and present fine liquor to them. Each official, however, could generally gain only two liters of liquor, just as the saying goes, “never drink too much even if it is the best liquor”. Chinese people like to celebrate the New Year with fine liquor, pray to gods and ancestors for good fortune, and then begin to work hard in the year because all these are the traditions of Chinese New Year since ancient times.
Nowadays, people continue the traditions of having fine liquor to celebrate Chinese New Year, and Moutai is poised to become an essential part of any important occasion whether celebrating a momentous event in your life.
Source Reference: Issue 11 of Moutai Magazine - International Edition
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