This sermon was written back in 2007. It’s almost like a ‘Da Vinci Code’ story, where clues are pieced together to form a very controversial and subjective conclusion. The conclusion is that our Chinese New Year is somehow related to the Jewish Passover. And to make the story even more interesting, it leads to an outrageous claim on the origins of the Chinese people. For many years, I have been thinking about this matter because as a Chinese brought up in a potpourri Taoist, Confucius and Buddhist traditions, I see a number of interesting similarities between Chinese New Year and Passover, as recorded in the Bible.
First, let’s take a look at the story of Chinese New Year. It is the most important festival for the Chinese people. You can easily find an article on it at Wikipedia. Here is how Wikipedia writes about the mythical origins of Chinese New Year.
Here is another account from a website although no one can actually document this tradition precisely as it has evolved over time and changed according to cultural and geographical influences as the Chinese people dispersed all over the world.
I am not sure how many of us would remember these mythical stories because the current emphasis is always about prosperity and material wealth.
Before we start comparing Chinese New Year and Passover, it is good that we remember the story of Passover. This story is found in the book of Exodus and it continues into the next three books of Moses, i.e. Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The story of Passover begun with God sending Moses back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh who thought that they were a threat and planned to reduce their population by killing their male babies. But God punished the Egyptians with many signs and wonders, but the Pharaoh was stubborn. He finally submitted when God sent a destroyer that killed the firstborns of every living thing in the land. The Israelites were saved because God commanded them to observe the Passover meal inside their houses which were marked with blood on the doorposts. The destroyer would pass over these houses with blood on the door and so the firstborns of the Israelites were saved.
With the story of Chinese New Year and Jewish Passover in the background, let’s begin our ‘Chinese New Year Code’ investigation. Let us look at the first similarity between Chinese New Year and Passover.
The first similarity is obviously the event itself. The first Chinese New Year was a day of mourning instead of festivities. It was a calamity or disaster where many died, especially children, because of the mythical beast called nien. The only difference is that Israelites survived without casualties, but the Chinese did not.
The second similarity is the colour red driving away the destroyer. For the Jewish people, it was the red blood on the doorpost. For the Chinese, it was red objects on the doors and windows of their houses. Because the colour red frightened off the monster nien who arrived at this time of year to destroy people, crops and homes, the colour was considered auspicious to the Chinese people. From then on, red has become the only colour for the Chinese. Anything good for us comes in red! Another thing to note is that the beast was finally captured by an ancient Taoist monk which gives me the impression of Moses.
The third similarity is the homecoming dinner.
On lunar New Year&apos;s Eve, family members who are no longer living at home make a special effort to return home for reunion and share in a sumptuous meal. At that time, family members hand out &quot;lucky money&quot; in red envelopes to elders and children and stay up all night to welcome the New Year. Chinese people have long believed that staying awake all night on New Year&apos;s Eve would help their parents to live a longer life. Thus, lights are kept on the entire night--not just to drive away Nien, as in ancient times, but also as an excuse to make the most of the family get-together.
This is very similar to what the Bible records about the first Passover meal. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Exodus 12:8In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD&apos;s Passover. Exodus 12:11And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. Exodus 12:22
Fourth, while preparing for Chinese New Year, our houses are always thoroughly cleaned, work stopped, debts repaid, hair cut and new clothes bought during the festival. During the Jewish Passover, the Jews have to clean their houses too in order to remove yeast from their homes.
During the first Passover, the Jews also received a lot of new clothing from the Egyptians.
More significantly, the Jews also received a lot of silver and gold and this is similar to what most little children love most about Chinese New Year, AngPow or red packets containing money given by married adults.
In the south of China sticky-sweet glutinous rice pudding called niangao is served, while in the north the steamed dumpling jiaoziis popular. Is this a Chinese manna?
I found a description of bdellium that goes like this:This undistinguished shrubby tree gives us bdellium (pronounced &quot;delm&quot;), once an adulterant of myrrh, which bdellium resembles in colour and shape but not smell. In sacred rites, it was steeped in wine to increase its fragrance and is associated with Mars. The name comes from Hebrew, bedolach, for something that is stuck together, like rice.
The Bible gave two sets of colour to manna, white and bdellium. Is this a contradiction? I was told by my mother-in-law that in making niangao, the grounded glutinous rice would turn brown on its own. The colour, texture and taste of niangao is quite like what is mentioned in the two verses. The white-coloured manna also reminds me of tong yuen, tasteless white flour dumpling eaten also during Chinese New Year.
The seventh similarity is the Taoist monk mentioned earlier. According to a legend, an old man came down from the mountain telling the people that they should write words on their door posts to chase away the nien that comes to destroy them. This was how the spring couplets originated.
This is similar to the Lord’s command from Moses, an old man, to the Israelites. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6:9
Eighth, even the taboos during Chinese New Year have similarities with Passover such as: Avoid housework on New Year’s Day. This activity runs the risk of washing or sweeping away good luck. It is important not to use language which is negative- having an argument on New Year&apos;s day is to be avoided at all costs.Words related to sickness and deaths are to be avoided. This even extends to the use of words which sound like the words for death or sickness.
On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat--that only may be prepared by you. Exodus 12:16 Surprisingly, the second day of Chinese New Year is considered the auspicious day to begin work and business again after the ‘Sabbath’ on the first. And the seventh day is also considered important just like the seventh day of Passover. In fact, the seventh day of Chinese New Year is considered the day for man much like the Sabbath is meant for man as Jesus said.
So how did these similarities come about? I speculate that this is related to the origins of the Chinese people. If my reading does not fail me, the study on the origins of Chinese people and how they suddenly appear in China with their high culture and technology, which is significantly different from their surrounding communities, is still subjective and debatable. Some said they migrated from elsewhere and some say they evolved from indigenous cultures. Perhaps, nowadays, it is widely accepted that the Chinese (from Xia dynasty) have evolved from the Yangshao and Lungshan culture which is consider indigenous. Nevertheless, they are those who would disagree.
What I am interested in, in this final posting of the subject, is a few cultural and historical artefacts that could point to a connection between the ancient Chinese civilization with the ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean. Creation mythThe creation myth for the Chinese is similar to the Jewish people and for the matter of fact, similar to the scientific notion of Big Bang. For the Chinese it all begun from nothing and everything was in chaos until the separation of Yin and Yang which is similar to God’s separation of Light and Darkness in Genesis and with the scientific notion of light and dark matter.
The book of Genesis tells us that the universe/earth in the beginning was total darkness and without form (chaotic). God begun the process by light and divided the light from the dark. In science, the universe also begun with Big Bang of light from a microscopic tiny dot which then expanded rapidly in a huge explosion creating both light and dark matter.
Adam and EveFor the Chinese, Fu Xi (伏羲)and Nuwa are considered as the ‘Adam and Eve’. Fu Xi was tasked with the management of the world with the use of I-Ching. This is similar to Adam’s task. But more importantly, the artefacts of Chinese Adam and Eve show surprising resemblance to the Egyptian gods of Isis and Serapis. Notice the snake-like feet? This is another connection to how Adam and Eve was deceived by the serpent.
The Chinese eve is pictured in ancient times as a lady with a snake’s body which resembles the story of Eve being tricked by the serpent.
Nuwa and the FloodNuwa, who sounds strangely close to Noah, was also said to have repaired the heavens using coloured-stones by smearing it in the sky. The heavens were broken because of the chaos caused by rogue or semi-angelic beings having a direct relationship with human beings, causing war and suffering. This is strangely close to how the Bible described Noah and the events that led to the worldwide flood in his time.
In addition, the Chinese had the knowledge in building pyramids resembling those in Sakkara, Egypt. They knew how to mummified corpse like the Egyptians. Their temples were divided into sections similar to that of the Jewish tabernacle.
Chinese people have a divination tool similar to Urim and Thummim. They used a divination tool similar to that of the Jewish people.
Could it be that the Chinese culture has kept an ancient knowledge that closely links them to the civilizations in the Mediterranean and Middle East? Some scholars are confident that the Chinese got it from the Babylonians. My own interest started with the story of nien and its similarities with Passover (both are incidentally celebrated as the beginning of a new year). It has led me down the road of connecting the origins of ancient Chinese with what the Bible has recorded about the Passover and Exodus. I will end with a highly speculative verse that may show a possible connection.
Could it be that the Chinese came out of Egypt with the Jews?
I end today’s sermon with this commandment from the Lord. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Exodus 12:14 Happy Chinese Passover!
Chinese New Year 2010a
新年<br />Chinese New Year<br />The Chinese Passover?<br />
Wikipedia<br />According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nien(Chinese: 年; pinyin: nián). Nien would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nien ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. <br />One time, people saw that the Nien was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nien was afraid of the colour red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nien. From then on, Nien never came to the village again. The Nien was eventually captured by hongjunlaozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nien became hongjunlaozu's mount.<br />
Legends of Chinese New Year<br />The origin of the Chinese New Year Festival can be traced back thousands of years through a continually evolving series of colorful legends and traditions. <br />One of the most famous legends is that of Nien 年, an extremely cruel and ferocious beast, which the Chinese believe, eats people on New Year's Eve. To keep Nien away, red-paper couplets are pasted on doors, torches are lit, and firecrackers are set off throughout the night, because Nien is said to fear the color red, the light of fire, and loud noises. <br />Early the next morning, as feelings of triumph and renewal fill the air at successfully keeping Nien away for another year, the most popular greeting heard is kung-hsi恭喜, or "congratulations.“ <br />
1. The Event<br />For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Exodus 12:12<br />
Home Coming Dinner<br />On lunar New Year's Eve, family members who are no longer living at home make a special effort to return home for reunion and share in a sumptuous meal. At that time, family members hand out "lucky money" in red envelopes to elders and children and stay up all night to welcome the New Year. Chinese people have long believed that staying awake all night on New Year's Eve would help their parents to live a longer life. Thus, lights are kept on the entire night--not just to drive away Nien, as in ancient times, but also as an excuse to make the most of the family get-together.<br />
Passover Meal<br />Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Exodus 12:8<br />And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. Exodus 12:22<br />
Spring Cleaning & New Clothes<br />Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. Exodus 12:15<br />The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. Exodus 12:35<br />
AngPow<br />The Chinese give money inside red envelopes which are decorated with lucky symbols or Chinese characters. These are known as 'Lai Si' or 'Hung Bao'. <br />The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. Exodus 12:35<br />
Manna<br />The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. Exodus 16:31<br />Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its colour like the colour of bdellium. Numbers 11:7<br />
Sabbath<br />On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat--that only may be prepared by you. Exodus 12:16<br />
Big Bang & Genesis<br />In the a beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.<br />And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.<br />
Fu Xi (伏羲)& Nüwa (女媧)<br />Ancient Chinese Artefacts<br />Ancient Greek Artefacts<br />
Origins of Chinese<br />三皇五帝<br />Legendary Figures<br />
Chinese Exodus?<br />Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!" Numbers 11:4-6<br />
Remember Chinese Passover<br />This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Exodus 12:14<br />過 年<br />