A Brief History of New Year Celebrations

December 28, 2016

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival dates back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox, a day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness, and this ushered in the beginning of a new year.

If the first recorded New Year’s celebration was in March, how did it move to January 1st?

The answer to that question may be found at History.com where we discover that Emperor Julius Cesar introduced the Julian calendar in 46 BC, and it closely resembled the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries use today. In addition, Cesar made January 1st the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake, Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.

Therefore, if you celebrate the New Year on January 1st, you are celebrating a pagan holiday. But all is not lost. Later, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian leaders in medieval Europe during the Dark Ages replaced January 1st as the first day of the year with days carrying more religious significance such as December 25, the anniversary of Jesus’s birth, and that lasted until Pope Gregory XIII (AD 1502 – 1585) reestablished January 1st as New Year’s Day in 1582.


Countries that do NOT celebrate the New Year on the first of January

For China, the first day of the New Year falls between January 21 and February 20.  The Chinese New Year is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar, also known as the Spring Festival.

The Chinese New Year gained significance because of several myths and traditions. History.com reports the ancient Chinese calendar, on which the Chinese New Year is based, functioned as a religious, dynastic and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that it existed as early as the 14th century BC, during the Shang Dynasty.

Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities (gods) as well as ancestors. The Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories that have significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, and the Philippines.

In 2015, China witnessed 261 million people on the move to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, and they traveled by road, rail and air—all over a short period of time. The Chinese Lunar New Year for 2016 takes place on Monday, February 8, and it is a national holiday that runs from February 7 – 13. If you are curious and want to see what it looks like in China when all those people are on the road at the same time, the International Business Times has a great photo spread to scroll through.

When we visited China in 2008 during this incredibly crowded holiday for travelers, the Lunar New Year was on February 7, the Year of the Rat. In 2017 it will be the Year of the Rooster on January 28th. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle.

Back during the Year of the Rat in 2008, it was so crowded when we were traveling in China, that it felt as if we were swimming upriver through an ocean filled with people and no water.

For readers who haven’t been to China and want to visit one day, this may be your only chance to experience a taste of what it’s like to live in a country with more than 1.3 billion people. By the way, 261 million people is more than 80% of the population of the United States. Imagine the gridlock if that many Americans took to the roads and air all at the same time.

 
2015 Lunar New Year in Shanghai, China

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

1a-238-positive-reviews-november-21-2016

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Do the Chinese think of education the same way Americans and Europeans do?

December 21, 2016

To understand the Chinese mind, it’s a good idea to start with Confucius (552 – 479 BC), who is arguably the most influential person in Chinese history, and by extension the rest of East Asia: Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. The reason for this is because China was a regional super power for more than fifteen hundred years, and its merchants helped spread Chinese cultural influence and values through trade.

An important Confucian influence on Chinese society and the rest of East Asia was the focus on education and scholarship, and it’s no secret that Chinese (and other Asians) students put in more hours in classroom study than their Western counterparts; even in the United States.

In fact, we can measure the influence of Confucius on even Asian-American students in the United States. For instance, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Education reported that (high school) graduation rates vary by race; with 89.4 percent of Asia/Pacific Islander students graduating on time compared to 87.2 percent of whites, 76.3 percent of Hispanics, and 72.5 percent of blacks.

In China, the hallmark of Confucius’ thought was his emphasis on education and study. He disparaged those who had faith in natural understanding or intuition and argued that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study.

Confucius goal was to create gentlemen who carried themselves with grace, spoke correctly, and demonstrated integrity in all things. He had a strong dislike of the sycophantic “petty men,” whose clever talk and pretentious manner easily won them an audience of easy-to-fool people. In fact, it’s safe to say that Confucius would have despised Donald Trump.

Confucius political/educational philosophy was also rooted in his belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern. Donald Trump fails this test too.

To understand the importance of education in Western culture, we first look at what Plato (about 423 – 346 BC), Socrates (about 469 – 399 BC), and Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) thought.

When Plato talked about the education of the body, he said we had to take Spartan military gymnastics as a model, because it was based on physical exercises and prescribed severe control over all pleasures. Plato also argued for the public character of education and that it had to be given in buildings especially built for that purpose. In these schools, boys and girls should receive the same teaching and that the educational process should start as soon as possible, as young as three-to-six-years old.

Socrates believed that there were different kinds of knowledge, important and trivial. He acknowledges that most of us know many “trivial” things, and he said that the craftsman possesses important knowledge, the practice of his craft, but that this is important only to the craftsman. But Socrates thought that the most important of all knowledge was “how best to live.” He concluded that this was not easily answered, and most people lived in shameful ignorance regarding matters of ethics and morals. Socrates devoted much thought to the concept of belief, through the use of logic.

Aristotle, however, said that the purpose of the state was to educate the people; to make them virtuous. He said virtue was the life principle of the state. The goal of the state was to educate with a view toward its own institutions (to preserve them); through the political education of all citizens.

It’s also safe to say that Donald Trump doesn’t fit what Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle thought about the proper educated citizen.

It is also arguable that the Bible probably has a larger impact on what many Westerners think about the value of an education, but the focus of the Bible is mostly on fear of the Lord when it comes to learning—a mixed message at best when compared to what Confucius, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle thought.

Proverbs 9:9-10 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 John 1:9 – Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Donald Trump also fails the Bible’s test too, because he prefers people to fear Donald Trump and not the Lord.


Watch the video to discover that the agenda of the Common Core State Standards and the autocratic Corporate Charter School reform movement in the United States is similar to the agenda of the Prussian Model of Obedience.

In conclusion, the value of an education is clearly defined by Confucius providing a solid foundation for East Asia, while in the West, the message is murky and confusing at best, because the Bible focuses on fear of the Lord, and that Scripture is profitable for teaching and training the righteous compared to Plato’s focus on harsh Spartan physical training in addition to severe self-control over all pleasures starting at an early age, and Aristotle focused on preserving government through political education of the people. In other words, brainwashing them.

Socrates may have been closer to the way Confucius thought about the value of an education, but not as clearly defined as Confucius was.

Out of this muddle of Western thought eventually emerged the 18th century, Prussian Industrial Model of education more aligned with what Aristotle thought, and this system was adopted by most of Western Culture during the industrial revolution, including the United States.

The Prussian system instituted compulsory attendance, specific training for teachers, national testing for all students (used to classify children for potential job training), national curriculum set for each grade and mandatory kindergarten.

The Prussian public education model attempted to instill social obedience in the citizens through indoctrination. Every individual had to become convinced, in the core of his being, that the King was just, his decisions always right, and the need for obedience paramount. There was no room for individual thought or questioning authority that would develop in the United States and other Western countries after World War II.

Maybe the blind obedience that gave power to dictators like Hitler had something to do with that change in Western thought about public education, but today, with the emphasis on the Common Core State Standards and harsh punishment of children and teachers that attend publicly funded, autocratic corporate charter schools, it’s clear that the United States may be returning to the harsher Aristotelian, Prussian Model of education to brainwash children so they grow up and give blind obedience to their leaders; something, for sure,  Donald Trump will agree with.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2a-238-postiive-reviews-november-21-2016

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


They sent us their tired, poor, huddled masses from Asia, and we locked them up

November 29, 2016

There is a poem on the Statue of Liberty that ends with “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Angel Island in San Francisco Bay was America’s west coast Ellis Island, but those famous last lines on the Statue of Liberty Poem did not apply to the Chinese and other Asians.

From 1919 to 1940, mostly Asian immigrants entered the US through Angel Island.

After 1940, the immigration station on Angel Island was forgotten until California Park Ranger Alexander Weiss discovered the stories carved in the walls.

He thought these stories were ghosts waiting to be heard.

Over half of the Angel Island immigrants came from China and Japan and most of the carvings on the walls were poems written in Chinese.

A former detainee, Dale Ching, went through the station in 1937 when he was sixteen.  Even though Dale’s father was born in the United States, he still had to go through the immigration station.

While the East Coast’s Ellis Island welcomed immigrants, Angel Island’s story was one of sadness and suffering.

Most European immigrants who went through Ellis Island stayed a few hours, but immigrants on Angel Island were kept locked up under armed guard with barbed-wire fences surrounding the buildings and some people stayed for days, weeks, months and even years.

The park service wanted to tear the Angel Island buildings down but Weiss found supporters, and they struggled to preserve this history.  They succeeded and the restoration project was challenging.

Alexander Weiss sums up the video saying we should know both the right and the wrong from U.S. history.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

a1-237-postive-reviews-october-8-2016_edited-5

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Is There a Turkey Day in China Too?

November 23, 2016

Turkey is a fowl many Chinese seldom eat. However, eating duck and chicken is common. Duck is even considered a delicacy. In fact, the Unvegan says, “No trip to Beijing is complete without eating some Peking Duck.”

The Virtual Tourist says, “It is thought that Beijing roast duck, like the tradition of roast turkey in America and the UK, owes its origin to the roast goose that is still popular in Europe on festive occasions.”

Most Americans do not celebrate the Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival) and most Chinese do not celebrate Thanksgiving. After all, Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Canadians also celebrate, but on the second Monday in October.


Thanksgiving in Beijing with Peking Duck

CBS News.com reported, “America is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of turkeys. As a nation we’re also the largest consumers of turkey …” and “China is the second-largest market for U.S. turkey exports, reportedly buying more than $70.5 million in turkey meat in 2012.”

If you are visiting China during Thanksgiving, you have a choice between Peking Duck, which is easy to find, and turkey.

Go China says, “Just head to your local international grocery store (Jenny Lu’s in Beijing, Cityshop in Shanghai) and stock up on all the fixings: frozen Butterball turkeys, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie makings. But you better do it fast, there tends to be a run on these items so if you’re shopping on the last Thursday in November, you’ll be out of luck.”

In fact, if you are visiting Shanghai, the Shanghai City Guide is there to help you find where to buy your favorite food. There are even three Walmarts in Shanghai, and Time Out Beijing provides a list for China’s capital city.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

a1-237-postive-reviews-october-8-2016_edited-5

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Cultural Importance of Education in China Caught on Film

October 25, 2016

In the Chinese film Not One Less (1999), a thirteen-year-old girl is asked to be the long-term substitute teacher in a small Chinese village.  The teacher says to her that when he returns, if he finds all the students still there, he will pay her ten yuan, less than two American dollars at the time.

When one student, Zhang Huike, stops coming to school, Wei Minzhim, the thirteen-year-old substitute teacher, follows him to the city.

There are several themes in this film. The most powerful was the value of an education and not losing face. If Wei loses Zhang, she will fail the teacher who gave her the responsibility to teach the village children. To her, that means she must keep all the students.

This film reveals one of the greatest cultural differences between the United States and China. More than 2,000 years ago, Confucius taught that an education was the great equalizer and the key to leaving poverty behind. In the United States, for the last several decades, corporations in the private-sector education industry that profit off high-stakes tests claim high-test scores will lift children out of poverty, and low test scores are the fault of teachers, not children who don’t study for whatever reason.

Today many Chinese, not all, and most Asians outside of China still believe with a passion that education is the key, and this belief may explain why the on-time high school graduation for Asian-Americans in the United States is the highest when compared to all other racial groups.

U.S. News.com reports that Asian/Pacific Islander students comprised the only subgroup with a higher (on-time high school) graduation rate than white students (in the U.S.).

In the United States, teachers are often blamed for the lower graduation rates of Hispanics (more than 74 percent) and Blacks (71 percent), while in China parents take the blame when their children are not successful in school.

This is another significant difference between China and the United States. In China it would be unthinkable to wage war against the nation’s teachers for children who don’t learn. Instead, parents, who cared, and teachers work together to do what they can as partners to make sure children learn.

And for children that live in poverty and/or with parents that don’t care, a Stanford University Researcher discovered “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country, surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States.”

Zhang Yimou was the director of this film. He said, “Chinese culture is still rooted in the countryside. If you don’t know the peasant, you don’t know China.” Because of this, there is a strong message in this film about the urban–rural divide in China, which is being addressed as China sews the nation together with high-speed rail and electricity.

This a powerful movie about children, education, and poverty that shows the challenges China (and every country) faces in improving the lifestyles of almost 8-hundred million Chinese, who don’t live in the cities. The challenge is to do this without losing the cultural values that flow through Chinese history like a powerful river.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

on-sale-october-november-2016

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 


A look at Dishonesty and Democracy in Asia

September 14, 2016

Corruption is a fact-of-life in most of Asia. The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2015 reveals that most of Asia is very corrupt —when it comes to this ranking, the smaller number is better and the worst global ranking for corruption is shared by North Korea and Somalia.

Of the 168 countries ranked for corruption in the world, in South East and East Asia: North Korea was ranked 167 (the most corrupt country), Cambodia was ranked 150, Myanmar 147, Laos 139, Nepal 130, Timor-Leste 123, Pakistan 117, Vietnam 112, Philippines 95, Indonesia 88, China 83, Thailand 76, Mongolia 72, Malaysia 54, South Korea 37, Taiwan 30, Bhutan 27, Hong Kong 18 (part of China), and Japan 18. (countries in bold are listed as democracies)

These countries in Asia are listed as democracies: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Taiwan (except Taiwan is not considered a country).

India, the world’s largest democracy, was ranked 76 on the Corruption Perception Index. Singapore (describes itself as a ‘sovereign republic’) was number 8, making it one of the least corrupt countries in the world. The country on the list with the least corruption was Denmark. Second place went to Finland and third to Sweden.

China, a country that gets a lot of bad press in the United States for corruption, was ranked 83rd, but 50.59 percent of the world’s countries were ranked worse for corruption.

The United States was ranked 16th.

It may come as a surprise to many Western critics, but aei.org reports, “In 1987, the Party mandated the creation of new local governments by democratic election in China’s approximately 930,000 villages. A decade later, more than 905,000 elected committees and 3.7 million elected officials were reportedly in place.” To discover more about this experiment with democracy that’s been going on for 29 years inside of Communist China, click the link in this paragraph.

“Between July 2006 and December 2007, elections for local assemblies were held in 60 percent of provincial administrative regions, with more than 900 million voters selecting 38,000 people’s congresses. No elections had been held beyond the township level.” – Facts and Details.com

Few outside China have heard of China’s rural experiment with democracy, and each time there is an election, almost one billion peasants learn more about democracy in action.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 


The influence of U.S. universities on students from China

August 30, 2016

Millions of students from Communist China have attended American universities and colleges and earned degrees.

The American impression of China hasn’t stopped some of China’s top leaders sending their children to universities in the West. For instance China’s first-daughter, Xi Mingxi, the only child of Xi Jinping, the President of China, graduated from Harvard in 2014 under a pseudonym.  The New Yorker reported she “studied psychology and English and lived under an assumed (fake) name.”

In November 2015 Foreign Policy Magazine reported, “Out of the more than 974,000 international students currently in the United States, almost one in three is now Chinese.”

According to Foreign Policy Magazine there is a benefit gained from this. “Having these Chinese students on U.S. campuses helps to build a bridge between China and the United States.”

This exchange isn’t free. In fact, it’s expensive for a foreign student to attend a college or university in the U.S., and Foreign Policy says, “In the 2014-2015 academic year, Chinese students pumped $9.8 billion into the U.S. economy through tuition and fees.”

It may come as a surprise to most Americans to discover that families in China that have the money to send their children to the U.S. mostly belong to the Communist Youth League or the Chinese Communist Party and more of them are going home after graduation.

The South China Morning Post reported, “For decades, the rate of return to China remained low as students with advanced degrees did not see opportunities for research at home. Last year, more than 272,000 Chinese returned after completing their education abroad, 86,700 more than in 2011; a 46 percent increase, according to the Ministry of Education.”

When China’s evolution as a modern nation is complete, will it become a republic influenced by America’s “so-called” socialist, liberal institutions of higher education, but with Chinese characteristics like Sun Yat-sen, the father of China’s republic, said he wanted. After all, Sun Yat-sen was influencd by what he learned while attending high school and then one semester of college in Hawaii before he went home to launch a revolution that toppled China’s last imperial dynasty in 1912.

What do most Chinese students think after spending several years in the United States? Another Foreign Policy piece attempts to answer that question and reports, For many Chinese students, it’s not that simple. “I like the U.S.,” one survey respondent wrote. “But I love China; it’s my motherland.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline