Chinese New Year celebrations, also known as the Spring Festival, in China start on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The festival lasts for about 23 days.
How is the Chinese New Year celebrated?
Before the starting of the New Year, people get busy to spring clean their houses and sweep away signs of bad luck. On New Year’s Eve, all dustpan, brooms, and brushes are hidden away so that good luck is not mistakenly swept away. Houses and offices are decorated with paper scrolls tattooed with good fortune symbols and phrases such as Fú meaning “happiness” and F meaning “wealth” in Mandarin. The paper-cutting custom dates back to the Han dynasty.
Sacrifices & Offerings:
A ceremonial sacrifice is offered before the poster of the Kitchen God, named Zao Jun . Adults of the household offer Nian Gao (sticky rice cakes) and children rub honey on Zao Jun. Ancient Chinese believed that if the Kitchen God is pleased, he provides a good report on the family’s behaviour on returning to heaven.
At Chinese New Year celebrations, people prefer to wear red clothes. Traditionally, red is regarded as an auspicious color in Chinese culture, and it symbolizes good luck, happiness and prosperity. Earlier, people lit bamboo stalks (now replaced by colored firecrackers), believing that the crackling flames would scare off the evil spirits.
Auspicious Red Envelopes:
On New Year’s Day, children are surprised with red envelopes filled with “lucky money (, honbbao in Mandarin)” and sweets hidden under their pillows by their parents and grandparents. Since, in ancient custom red symbolized fire, it is believed that red envelopes/ red packets would drive away bad luck.
Awesome Lantern Festival with Dragon Dance:
The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month. The paper lanterns are decorated with painted zodiac signs, animals, flowers, ritual symbols, birds, and stories from legend and history. Most Chinese hang glowing lanterns in temple premises, or carry them to an evening parade. In many areas, the Chinese dragon dance is the main highlight of the New Year Celebration. Silk, paper, and bamboo are commonly used to make hundred feet long dragons. Traditionally, the dragon is held in the air by a group of young dancing men as they steer the colorful beast through the streets along with marching bands and floats.
Traditional Festive Foods:
On New Year’s evening, women-folks hailing from the North China get together to prepare Jiaozi (steamed Chinese dumplings) and in the south, they serve Nian Gao (sticky rice pudding) . It is customary to hide a coin in one of the dumplings. Whoever finds the dumpling with the coin is suppose to enjoy good luck in the coming year. Oranges and tangerines are gifted to children and guests, as these fruits symbolize enormous prosperity. It is a common practice to offer sugared fruit and veggies to friends, families and from a “Tray of Togetherness (chuen-hop)”. It is a octagonal or circular shaped tray with eight compartments filled with symbolic foods: dates, lychee nuts , winter melon, lotus seed, coconut, water chestnut, lotus root, tangerine and carrot.
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