Like it or not, Bai Nian (拜年) remains an important activity during the course of Chinese New Year celebration. Literally means “paying New Year visit” or “wishing somebody Happy New Year”, Bai Nian is a traditional folk custom among Chinese people and its practice can well be dated back to before the Song Dynasty 宋朝 (960 – 1279). Back then, people used to visit and greet each other a Happy New Year on the first day of Chinese New Year, although the visiting can last a few days into Chinese New Year in modern days.
To the uninitiated, Bai Nian carries the symbolic meaning of “ditching the old; welcoming the new”, which is why it is called the New Year
Jam never likes Chinese New Year visiting, especially to relatives. Before you married, they normally ask when you plan to do so. After you got married, they will then ask you when to have a child. That is why I always avoid visiting my relatives during Chinese New Year! So, this post does not aim to encourage or promote Bai Nian, rather Jam is trying to bring to your attention an age-old Chinese New Year song, also titled Bai Nian.
I had listened to this song titled Bai Nian since I was a kid, and I bet most of you should have known this Chinese New Year song too!
钟盛忠与童欣 – 拜年
As a matter of fact, the song was first recorded back in 1956 under EMI Hong Kong. So the song is older than Jam, if not most of us! It is a duet of 2 performers, between a male and another female performer. The highlight of the song is a small section of funny dialogue in the middle part of the composition. Let’s listen to this version of Bai Nian.
林黛与严俊 – 拜年
That was not the earliest version of Bai Nian though. Jam had found another earlier version of the song, believed to be the original version which was released in 1938, also by EMI Hong Kong. The song was first known as Xin Dui Hua (新对花), and here it is.
周璇与严华 – 新对花
Of all the 3 versions, which one do you prefer? As for me, I still favor the modern day composition of Bai Nian. Last but not least, Jam would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (恭喜发财)! May all of us have a prosperous year ahead!
Bai Nian 拜年 by Life Is Like That, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Malaysia License.