Happy Chinese New Year!
With Chinese New Year fast approaching, it is the time of the year when we find good company, enjoy the reunion of relatives, and friends, as well as indulge in delicious meals, cakes and delicacies. Chinese New Year is the most important holiday for Chinese, and is celebrated in many parts in East Asia. Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, the festival begins on February 16th this year, and lasts for 15 days.
Traditions and Nian
As we bid goodbye to the year of the rooster and welcome the year of the dog, we prepare to welcome Chinese New Year with loud celebrations, fireworks, as well as traditional events all over the region such as the lion dances which are very loud, festive, and colorful.
For the uninitiated, the lion dance is a traditional dance in Chinese culture in which performers mimic the animal’s movements in a lion costume. The lion dance is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals for good luck, as the lion is believed to be an auspicious animal.
Did you know that this tradition streams from a legend in the Chinese culture?
Long ago in the mountains, there lived a horrible demon creature named Nian. Every year, on the first day of the year, the creature would awaken and descend upon the village. He would eat all the grain and livestock. And if there were any unfortunate children stuck outside, they would disappear.
The villagers lived in fear of this beast and boarded up their houses on this night to protect their families. One year, right before this event was to occur, an old man visited the village. He turned to the villagers and asked, “Why do you fear this creature? You are many and he is but one. Surely he could not swallow all of you.”
But the villagers remained skeptical and locked themselves up anyway. So, the old man informed them, “The beast is easily scared. He does not like the color red. He fears loud noises and strange creatures. So tonight, spread red across the village. Hang red signs on every door. Make loud noises with drums, music, and fireworks. And to protect your children, give them face masks and lanterns to protect them.”
The villagers did as the old man instructed and Nian never returned. It has since become a tradition that part of New Year’s celebration is to hang lots of red decoration in your house. Streets are filled with music, loud drums, and fireworks all day long. And special paper lanterns are made in a variety of shapes and sizes, paraded through the streets to scare off any demons that might come.
Decibels of Chinese New Year
While enjoying the festivities, do also remember to take care of your hearing health as Chinese New Year is not only known to be one of the most colorful but also one of the loudest events of the year! Exposure to excessively loud noise can result in hearing loss, though it is largely preventable. However, many people do not realize that they may be exposing their ears to a huge amount of potentially damaging noise on a daily basis
Did you know?
- Fireworks at 3 feet, Firecrackers = 150 – 175 dB (range of painful impulse noise)
- Drums/Gongs/Cymbals = 100 – 120 dB (range of painful steady noise)
- Music – 96 – 100 dB (range of being dangerous to your hearing)
Hearing allows us to communicate with others, learn, and enjoy things like music and conversation. Noise-induced hearing loss usually happens slowly, however the longer you are exposed to a loud noise, the more damaging it may be. It is fine to listen to music at the level of 85dB for eight hours a day but every additional 3dB will cut the time by half. That means 88dB is safe for four hours, 91dB for two hours and so on.
Protecting Your Hearing
Here are some things you can do to protect your hearing this Chinese New Year!
- Avoid loud noises whenever possible. Remember, if you have to shout to be heard, it is too loud.
- Wear hearing protection such as protective earmuffs or earplugs to cut down the noise levels.
- Do not listen to loud sounds for too long. Move away from these sounds if you do not have hearing protection to give your ears a break.
- Get your hearing tested regularly if you are worried you might be losing your hearing. The earlier hearing loss is picked up, the earlier something can be done about it.