The day before yesterday, a friend asked me, "Do you Christians not celebrate the Spring Festival, or pay a New Year’s call? A colleague of mine does not celebrate. She said the Spring Festival was demon-related and people shouldn't celebrate it."
I replied, "It is an extreme case; the majority of believers do celebrate the New Year. We have reunion dinners, put up Spring Festival couplets, and visit each other. We shouldn't generalize based on the actions of individual believers."
As a result, the bias against the gospel from my friend was dispelled. However, it should be noted that there are indeed some extreme believers who oppose celebrating the Spring Festival and plan to evangelize on this day.
In Chinese legends, there is indeed a mythical aspect to the New Year celebration. In ancient times, there was a monster called "Xi (dusk)" or "Beast Nian (year)" that came out to eat people on New Year's Eve. To deal with the monster, people would place meat at their doors, then close the doors and hide inside. Up until the morning of the first day of the lunar year, people would open their doors to bow to one another and congratulate one another on avoiding the monster's bite. This is the legend of the Chinese New Year.
However, the Lunar New Year date was fixed in the Han dynasty (about 202 BC–220 AD), with certain celebration activities becoming popular from then on. The custom of burning firecracker bamboo spread to the common people and has continued to this day.
In contemporary society, paying a New Year's visit has become a custom, that enhances relationships through mutual blessings. This is different from the old custom of worshipping idols, and Christians should not reject it.
Apostle Paul pointed out, "To the Jews, I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law, I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law." This shows that, for the sake of the gospel, Christians should adapt to local customs to gain acceptance and promote evangelism.
The Christian Times, an online Christian newspaper in China, also reported a piece of news. On January 22, 2020, a Chinese staff worker from the Bill Graham Evangelistic Association shared a photo of Rev. William Franklin Graham III and Will standing on either side of the statue of the late Billy Graham, saying, "The Graham family wishes each person a Happy New Year."
Many churches visit believers during the Spring Festival, strengthening the bond with them. Some even visit elderly widows, bringing holiday gifts and caring for their lives, which has received much praise. Some church members go to visit friends and family who haven't accepted Christ yet, chatting with them and inquiring about their well-being.
Therefore, during the Spring Festival, Christians should not reject the custom of the New Year celebration. We should not refuse non-Christian customs for the purpose of setting ourselves apart for holiness. Otherwise, we will fail to win the approval of others, with the previously close relationships damaged. It is an important way to practice love through offering New Year's greetings and caring for those in need.
- Translated by Abigail Wu