Chinese New Year中国农历新年 or “Spring Festival”春节 is China’s most important festival and holiday. Spring Festival of 2018 falls on Friday, February 16th, beginning a year of the Dog.
Chinese New Year is celebrated for sixteen days, from New Year’s Eve除夕 to the Lantern Festival元宵节. The preparations start seven days before the New Year’s Eve小年. Many activities for this period are traditional customs, but some are quite new...
What Chinese Do during Spring Festival?
Putting up Spring Couplets 贴春联
Spring couplets or New Year couplets are paired phrases, typically of seven Chinese characters each, written on red paper in black ink红纸黑字, and pasted one each side of a door frame门框. Sometimes a phrase of four or five characters is affixed to the top of the door frame as well. New Year couplets are filled with best wishes. Some people write the couplets themselves, but most people buy them from the market. Pasting spring couplets is thought to keep evil away驱魔辟邪.
Enjoying a Reunion Dinner 吃年夜饭
The New Year’s Eve Feast盛宴 is a “must do” dinner with all family members reuniting. Chinese try very hard to make this family event, often traveling long distances. This is the main reason for the huge travel stress throughout China.
People from north and south China eat different foods on this special occasion, and many New Year foods are symbolic有象征意义的. In northern China a traditional dish for the feast is dumplings, symbolizing wealth. Southern Chinese eat sticky rice(niangao in Chinese) cake on this special day, because niangao sounds like “yearly higher”, symbolizing improvement.
Watching CCTV’s New Year Gala 看春晚
It’s become a China custom for many familes to watch the CCTV New Year Gala while having their dinner. The Gala starts at 8pm and ends at midnight when the New Year arrives, featuring traditional, folk, and pop performances from China’s best singers, dancers, and acrobats杂技演员.
Giving Red Envelopes (Lucky Money) to Kids 给孩子发红包
Parents usually give their children red envelopes after the reunion dinner, wishing them health, growth, and good studies in the coming year. Red envelopes always have money in. Money in red envelopes is believed to bring good luck, as red is China’s lucky color, so it’s called lucky money.
Staying up Late 守岁
It is customary习惯上的 to stay up until midnight after the reunion dinner. Chinese stayed up all night in the past, but now most stay up only till the midnight firecrackers and fireworks die down逐渐消失.
Setting off Firecrackers and Fireworks 放鞭炮和烟花
When the reunion dinner is ready, many families light firecrackers to invite ancestors祖先 to celebrate the festival together. It is also a way to add a jubilant atmosphere欢乐的气氛 to the festival and it brings great happiness. Firecrackers and fireworks are also set off at the stroke of midnight to scare away evil spirits驱鬼压邪and celebrate the coming of the new year. So, even though lighting firecrackers produces a loud noise nuisance麻烦事 and piles of red paper shreds碎片, Chinese people not only take it in their stride泰然处之, but also they generally enjoy firecrackers.
Listening to a New Year Bell 聆听新年的钟声
A bell is a traditional symbol of Chinese New Year, and Chinese believe that ringing a large bell can drive all bad luck away赶走所有的霉运 and bring good fortune带来好运. Chinese people like to go to large squares or temples广场和寺院 where there are huge bells rung on New Year’s Eve at midnight.
In recent years people have begun to go to mountain temples to wait for the first ringing of a bell in the new year. Hanshan Temple寒山寺 in Suzhou is famous for its bell to herald Chinese New Year用钟声宣告春节的到来.
Putting on New Clothes and Extending New Year Greetings 穿新衣&拜年
On the first day of the New Year, Chinese put on new clothes, say “guonianhao”过年好, and wish each other good luck and happiness in the New Year. It is customary for the younger generation to visit their elders长辈, and wish them health and longevity健康长寿.