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How to celebrate Chinese New Year Celebration

February 5, 2018

Preparation is key before, family is the most important part of the day

Chinese New Year (春節-chun jie), also known as Spring Festival because it is celebrated after all of the farmers have harvested their crops, is the most important holiday in China. It is celebrated for 16 days based on the lunar-solar Chinese calendar.

The pre-Chinese New Year celebration happens seven days before the official Chinese New Year celebration begins, which falls between Feb. 8-14.

Chinese people prepare by cleaning everything, including their houses and shops or offices. The goal is to get rid of all bad things from the past. People also go shopping and buy new clothes, candies, cakes (年糕-nian gao) and red decorations, such as lights and firecrackers. Some people outside of China go to salons to cut their hair, the purpose being the same as cleaning one’s house — to let go of everything in the past.

New Year’s Eve activities occur one day before Chinese New Year. People usually decorate their houses with lanterns and long red paper with Chinese characters written on it. They believe that red objects will bring them luck in the year ahead, and in rural areas they will bring luck to their livestock or businesses.

To symbolize happiness, people hang lights indoors or outdoors. Many go to the temple to worship their ancestors. They use joss sticks (or incense) to perform the new year ritual and burn joss papers that are placed in a large vase behind the temple. At night, families gather together to eat at one big table and the meal is accompanied with lots of meat and beer.

To celebrate the day of Chinese New Year, people wake up early and wear new clothes – usually red, gold or yellow. They offer a greeting of “Happy Chinese New Year” (拜年-bainian) to family members.

Older people or unmarried people receive red envelopes to signify luck. Children who have married and are successful often give their parents money. Eating noodles and fish is a part of the culinary culture of the Chinese New Year celebration; they signify longevity and fish represent prosperity.

Contributing Illustration/ Beatrix Cendana

What not to do on Chinese New Year:

  • Sweep dust — it will get rid of the new things that come into one’s life
  • Give others red envelopes if one is single. Even if they have worked for a long time, tradition does not allow the giving of red envelope gifts to children or other youth.
  • Wake up too late — it is not good manners. Also, according to traditional Chinese culture, people who sleep in will lose their luck in the new year.

 

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