O-mikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Literally ‘sacred lot’, these are usually received by making a small offering of generally a five-yen coin as it is considered good luck and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for the resulting fortune to be good. The o-mikuji is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the fortune written on it. It includes a general blessing with a fortune regarding specific aspects of one’s life.
Chinese wishing trees, money trees, and hong bao trees are a big part of Chinese New Year festivities. Every year, billions of people around the world gather to toss their red ribbons up into the wishing tree with hope that it will stick and their wish will come true for good fortune in the coming year.
According to Chinese Farmers Calendar, Tung Shu, summer begins on 6th of May called “Summer Begins- Li Hsia”. From this day on temperature rises with more thunder and rain, all plants and vegetation get strong and luscious. On this day, it is believed that weighing oneself is very good for health. The Feng Shui Store has created a software based version helping you save time and even select the best dates for individual everyday and specialist tasks such as getting a haircut, signing contracts and much much more.
During the wake of a death person, family and friends bring paper flower wreaths that have banners printed with verses or rhymes. They also give the family white envelopes holding money in odd amounts to help pay for the funeral and bring good luck to the dead person, with the largest amounts from family members. Family members fold prayer paper into the shape of as many Chinese coins as possible to bring more good luck to their loved one in the afterlife.
Cai Chun’e, a 68-year-old paper cut artist from Handan, Hebei province, shows her work with the horse theme. Cai recently created more than 40 horse paper cuts in different shapes to show the charming allure of the intangible cultural heritage and her good wishes for the Year of the Horse. [ECNS.CN Photo by Hao Qunying/Asianewsphoto]
In the past, urban families burned their paper offerings in a variety of containers such as cooking oil tins. Now it is more common for urban worshippers to use the red enamel portable metal ovens, for sale at most retail paper shops. In the earlier days people were allowed to burn paper offerings within the public housing blocks. In the more recently built housing estates, burning in the stairwells and other public spaces is now prohibited as a fire hazard.
According to a Chinese myth, the New Year Monster does not like the color red or the sound of fireworks. In order to scare off the monster, people hang bright red decorations on their houses and light off fireworks during the week of celebration. For the last four days there has been a constant bang of fireworks as everyone plays their part in scaring away the monster. People traditionally decorate their houses with flowers, fruit, lanterns and scrolls displaying messages of good wishes and fortune. Red, orange and gold are popular decoration colours.
The use of spirit money in different rituals is deeply rooted in Asian culture. The bank notes can be printed in various styles, i.e. showing currencies like the Chinese Yuan, US Dollar, Thai Baht or Vietnamese Dong. The afterlife money is known for its large denomination, at times up to various billion dollars. The face of the note often sports a portrait of the Jade Emperor and the reverse an image of the ‘Bank of Hell’. It is meant for use by the more recently dead and other relatives and as an offering to the Judge of the Dead. The use of the English word ‘Hell’ in the ‘Bank of Hell’ and ‘Hell Money’ is probably an imperfect reference to the underworld and the court of the dead. Upon death, all souls are first sent to the underworld where their eternal fate is determined by the judge Yan Wang. The ghost money is intended, in part, as a gratuity of sorts to the judge in the hope that he will adjudicate their ancestors case favorably and lighten the length of their stay in the underworld.
More contemporary varieties of Joss paper include cheques, credit cards, smartphones, iPad as well as clothes, houses, cars, toiletries, pizza boxes and servants. The designs on items of cardboard vary from the very simple to very elaborate with custom artwork and names. In some Chinese mythology these objects are sent by living relatives to dead ancestors for a shorter stay or to escape punishment, or for the ancestors to use themselves in spending on lavish items in the afterlife.
In Asian societies, a red envelope or red packet is a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions. During the Lunar New Year, mainly in Southern China, red envelopes are typically given by the married to the unmarried, most of whom are children. It is traditional to put brand new notes inside red envelopes and also to avoid opening the envelopes in front of the relatives out of courtesy.