Spring Festival(Chinese New Year)

Last Update: 2008-6-17; By chinatravelservice

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Spring Festival
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Spring Festival is on January, 1st, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. It is usually called as Chinese Lunar New Year This is the most important festival in China. It origins from Yin Dynasty and Shang Dynasty.

When Spring Festival comes, spring comes as well. Everything comes to life and plants are prosperous. Just having experienced a cold winter, people are so excited to welcome a new spring.

Spring Festival is a happy festival. No matter how far people stay away, they are eager to go home and stay together with their families on this special festival.

The warm atmosphere is not only in the houses, but also in the streets. In many places, lion dances and dragon lantern show are performed during Spring Festival. In some places, people kept the customs of Shehuo performance, visiting flower market, going to the temple fair. During this period, the cities are full of lanterns and the streets are crowded with people. Activities last to the 15th of January, this can be an end of Spring Festival.

Spring Festival is the most important festival for Han Nationality, but some ethnic nationalities also celebrate Spring Festival. They are Man Nationality, Mongol Nationality, Yao Nationality, Zhuang Nationality, Gaoshan Nationality, Bai Nationality, Hezhe Nationality, Hani Nationality, Dawoer Nationality, Dong Nationality, Li Nationality and some other nationalities.

Customs of Spring Festival

Spring Festival is a very old festival in China, and it is also the most important festival to all the Chinese. There are many customs about Spring Festival, and some are still popular.

1. Sweeping

Sweeping in Spring Festival is a very old custom. It started from the time of Yao and Shun. It is said that dust has the same pronunciation with old in Chinese language. So sweeping the dust means to ring out the old year and ring in the new. When Spring Festival comes, people sweep the floor, wash the daily things, clean the spider webs and dredge the ditches. People do all these things happily, in the hope of a good coming year.

2. House decoration

One of the house decoration is to post couplets on doors . On the Spring Festival couplets, times backgrounds are described and good wishes are represented. No matter in urban or rural places, people choose a pair of good Spring Festival couplets to stick on their doors. This adds much happy atmosphere to the traditional Spring Festival.

New Year picture is also widely used for New Year house decoration. The colorful New Year picture adds more happy atmosphere to the new year. New Year picture is an old art form of China. It presents the believes and hopes of Chinese people.

People in north China are used to posting their windows paper-cut during festivals. The new year paper-cut represents the good wishes to the coming year and it decorates Spring Festival quite nice. When sticking the window decoration paper-cuts, people paste large red Fu (a Chinese character) on the door as well. This is an old tradition in China. Fu means good luck and fortune in Chinese, so the action of sticking Fu expresses people's good wishes. Some people like sticking the Fu on its head. In Chinese, standing upside down is dao, and dao has the same pronunciation of come. Sticking the Fu on its head means the good luck and fortune come. This shows the hopes to the coming year.

3. Shousui

Shousui means to stay up late or all night on New Year's Eve. After the great dinner on the New Year's Eve, families sit together and chat with the lanterns lighting on to wait for the New Year's coming. They believe that all the bad luck and diseases are scared and drove away by the lighting lanterns, the good luck will come into their house as well.

4. Setting Firecrackers

On the morning of first day of New Year, the first thing people do in light the firecrackers. The sounds of firecrackers add much happy atmosphere to the Spring Festival. People believe that the great sounds of firecrackers can drive the bad luck away and welcome the good luck in the New Year. This tradition has lasting for more than 2,000 years in China. The amplification of fireworks is getting wider and wider now. People burn it in important festivals or events, such as wedding, house building or bossiness opening. The varieties of fireworks and firecrackers now are very rich, there are many famous places of firecrackers and fireworks production in China, such as Liuyang in Hunan Province, Foshan and Dongrao in Guangdong Province, Yichuna and Pingxiang in Jiangxi Province, Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province and so on. Firecrackers and fireworks producted in these places are famous for the high-quality and various kinds. They sell very well in China, and some are exported to many countries and areas,

5. Bainian: new year greeting

Bainian means to pay someone a courtesy call on New Year's Day or shortly thereafter, usually with a present. On the first day of New Year, people get up very early and dress themselves well. They are going to visit their relatives and friends. There are many manners of Bainian. People may visit door by door with their clan elder. Some invite their good friends to visit other friends. And some get together and Bainian to each other. This is called Tuanbai. Because visiting relatives and friends at their own houses spends a lot of time, some people with higher position sent a card to express their good wishes. This kind of cards is the ancestor of New Year's postcard nowadays and this tradition handed down.
When the Bainian starts, the junior generation should bainian to the senior firstly and wish them healthy and long live. Then the senior people give the prepared money to the junior ones. This kind of money is called as Yasuiqian. Because the pronunciation of sui is the same as that of evil in Chinese, yasui means to suppress the evils. It is said that the junior one who has got the Yasuiqian can pass the New Year smoothly.

Food during Spring Festival

In ancient times, after the 8th day of Layue(an alternate name for the last Moon of the lunar calendar), housewives started to work on the food used during Spring Festival. Because the pickles need more time to prepare, so women should do it early. In many places people like to prepare pickles in winter and the most famous may be the pickles in Guangdong Province.

Steamed Niangao. Niangao is a pastry made of the flour of glutinous rice and used primarily in the lunar New Year period. Because niangao has the same pronunciation as the expression of getting higher position in Chinese, and niangao is very tasty, every family prepares it in Spring Festival. The shape of niangao may be square and the color may be yellow and white. They symbolize gold and silver. By eating niangao, people wish a rich new year comes.

On the New Year Eve, no matter how far it is, people try their best to come back home to stay together with their families. They make jiaozi(dumplings) together. Jiaozi is a symbol of staying together.


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