Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival as it is sometimes called, is a 15-day festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Chinese lunar calendar. It can be generally divided into three periods – the days preceding the festival, the days of the festival and the days after the New Year’s Day.
What’s interesting is that different parts of China have different traditions. But equally interesting is that certain customs and traditions are common to all parts.
The New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important dinner for the Chinese. It is considered the family reunion dinner, especially for those with family members who are often living far from home. Prawn-based delicacies or fish-based foods are normally served during dinner, but dumplings are very significant in northern China.
Another tradition is lighting firecrackers as it is believed to ward off monsters and evil spirits. The Chinese set off fireworks at the stroke of midnight to usher in their New Year. Excitement mounts as the auspicious minute tick closer and closer, and fireworks light up the sky when the clock strikes 12, much to the delight of onlookers.
The Chinese exchange something called red packets (Hong Bao). The packets are usually envelopes with money in them as a symbol of good luck. Normally, these red packets are given by adults, especially if they are a married couple, and the elderly to young children. It was believed that the money in the red packet will scare off a demon and keep the children safe.
On the day of the New Year, temporary markets are set up, mainly selling New Year goods, such as clothing, fireworks, decoration, foods, and small artefacts. The markets are usually decorated with plenty of lanterns. There are also the traditional performances of the dragon or lion dance, which are symbols of power, wisdom, and good luck, are there to chase off evil spirits and usher in happiness, good luck, and longevity.
There’s plenty to look forward to with the Chinese New Year. Check out some popular Chinese New Year superstitions and taboos!
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