nChinese New Year or Lunar New Year is the most popular, important and known as the Spring Festival because it marks the end of winter and begins of spring. The first New Year day begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese Calendar. According to the tradition and custom, Chinese New Year is considered a main and long holiday that lasts for 15 days. According to Chinese calendar, this year is the year of the Snake which begins on February 10th, 2018.
In these coming New Year days, people spend a lot of money on buying gifts, clothing, food and other items to decorate their house. Chinese people decorate their home with red colour papers and couplets for happiness, wealth and longevity. Chinese people often buy such food as pigs, ducks, chickens and sweet to enjoy their long holiday. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them.
In early morning of the 1st January, the elders will give lucky money in red envelopes to their children. Children will wish their parents and grandparents a healthy and longevity. The first day of Chinese New Year is a time for younger to honor their elders and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
For Buddhists, the first day is also the birthday of Maitreya Bodhisattva. People also avoid killing animals. Some families may invite a lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to welcome New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash known as “lai see”, a form of blessings and to suppress the aging and challenges associated with the coming year, to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers. Business managers also give bonuses through red packets to employees for good luck, smooth-sailing, good health and wealth.
The second day of the Chinese New Year is the time when married daughters visited their birth parents, relatives and close friends. Some believe that the second day is also the birthday of all dogs and remember them with special treats. A reunion dinner is held on New Year’s Eve where members of the family gather for the celebration. The venue will usually be in or near the home of the most senior member of the family. The New Year’s Eve dinner is very large and traditionally includes dishes of meat such as pork and chicken and fish. Most reunion dinners also feature a communal hot pot as it is believed to signify the coming together of the family members for the meal. Red packets for the immediate family are sometimes distributed during the reunion dinner. These packets often contain money in certain numbers that reflect good luck. Several foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune.
Traditionally, Red envelopes or red packets are passed out during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is also common for adults or young couples to give red packets to children. Red packets almost always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. Per custom, the amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals. The number 8 is considered lucky, and number 8 is commonly found in the red envelopes in the United Stages. The number six is also very lucky as it sounds like ‘smooth’, in the sense of having a smooth year. Sometimes chocolate coins are found in the red packets.
In addition to red envelopes, which are usually given from elder to younger, small gifts usually of food or sweets are also exchanged between friends or relatives during Chinese New Year. Gifts are usually brought when visiting friends or relatives at their homes. Common gifts include fruits typically oranges, and never pears, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, candies, or some other small gift.
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In ancient times, firecrackers are usually strung on a long fused string so it can be hung down. Each firecracker is rolled up in red papers, as red is auspicious, with gunpowder in its core. Once ignited, the firecracker lets out a loud popping noise and, as they are usually strung together by the hundreds, the firecrackers are known for their deafening explosions that are thought to scare away evil spirits. The burning of firecrackers also signifies a joyful time of year and has become an integral aspect of Chinese New Year celebrations. While fireworks and firecrackers are traditionally very popular, some regions have banned them in modern time due to concerns over fire hazards.
Clothing mainly featuring the colour red, yellow or bright colors is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it was once believed that red and yellow could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the new year. Wearing new clothes also symbolizes having more than enough things to use and wear in the new year. Red is a colour of good luck.
Probably more food is consumed during the New Year celebrations than any other time of the year. Vast amounts of traditional food is prepared for family and friends, as well as those close to us who have died. On the New Year’s Day, the Chinese family will eat a vegetarian dish. Other foods include a whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance, and a chicken for prosperity. The chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life. In south China, the favorite and most typical dishes were sweet steamed glutinous rice pudding and glutinous rice wrapped up in reed leaves, another popular delicacy. In the north, steamed-wheat bread and small meat dumplings were the preferred food. The tremendous amount of food prepared at this time was meant to symbolize abundance and wealth for the household.
Plants and Flowers
Every traditional Chinese household should also have live blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Flowers are believed to be symbolic of wealth and high positions in people’s career. Lucky is the home with a plant that blooms on the New Year’s Day, for that foretells a year of prosperity. Plum blossoms just starting to bloom are arranged with bamboo and pine sprigs, the grouping symbolizing friends; the plum blossom also signifies reliability and perseverance; the bamboo is known for its compatibility, its utility and its flexible stems for furniture and other articles; the evergreen pine evokes longevity and steadiness. Other highly prized flowers are the pussy willow, azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus. The Chinese firmly believe that without flowers, there would be no formation of any fruits.
In conclusion, it is very interesting to know about Chinese New Year Celebration as well as its tradition and culture that people often do in the New Year’s Days. If you have a chance, it is worth to visit this country on the Lunar New Year to enjoy custom, food and other entertainment activities. Wish you have a happy and prosperous New Year.
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