Chinese New Year, also sometimes called Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival; is the biggest event on the Chinese calendar. Where most of the western world, follows tradition of New Years Eve on the 31st of December, where we celebrate the start of the New year, when the clock strikes midnight. Where as the Chinese communities, their new year always fall somewhere between January 21 and February 20, this is usually the second new moon after the winter solstice. The lunar cycle does not line up with the sun based calendar, that is used by western world and that is why every year, the Chinese New Year falls on a different day and month. This year Chinese New Year falls on February 16, where Chinese celebrate their new year in an extravagant colourful public event, with a spring festival that lasts for weeks. The Chinese years are well-known for having animal names or a connection with the zodiac signs. The Chinese are currently moving out of the Year of the Rooster to move into 2018 which is the Year of the Dog.
The Chinese New Year 2018, will begin the celebrations mid-February and go on till the start of March. This festival is full of Chinese traditions and it consists with a lot of food and fireworks. It involves the traditional dumplings as well as special performances of the world-famous Chinese dragon and lion dance. The whole festival can be divided into a Pre-New Year celebration, New Year’s Eve celebration and then the day of the New Year onwards.
The preparations begin a few days before the New Year starts. Some traditions involved include cleaning of the house, decorating with festive paintings and traditional pieces, praying and shopping. These traditions vary from area to area.
New Year’s Eve And New Year’s Day
Chinese have a strong belief that their whole year is affected by the activities of the first day of the year, which for this reason, they spend the first day in a very happy and joyous mood. The New Year is welcomed with countless fireworks, firecrackers, Chinese dragon and lion dance. Every part of China, whether urban or rural, literally the sky is filled with exploding fireworks. There are firework shows on New Year’s Eve, before the New Year Eve dinner, on the morning of the New Year and then in the Lantern Festival which marks the end of the spring festival.
Setting off fireworks is a must for Chinese. This is because of their belief that fireworks fight off evil or any negative spirits. The tradition is backed by a story of a monster who was scared away only by the explosive sound created with a bamboo stick. The Chinese fireworks are also wrapped in red specifically because it is considered a lucky color. There is a specific way of lighting the fireworks; first, a small string of fireworks is lighted and then it is followed by three extremely loud fireworks. The louder the fireworks, the more blessed the Chinese consider their new year.
Another important tradition in the Chinese culture is a Reunion Dinner on New Year’s Eve. The whole family must sit together to enjoy a traditional meal. Many families offer sacrifices for their ancestors. This is done in different ways for different people. Kids receive Lucky Money in red envelopes.
The next 7 days are spent visiting relatives and friends. Since 8 is considered a lucky number, a majority of people prefer to return to work on the 8th day. Traditional activities go on throughout this whole time. On the 15th day after the New Year, the celebrations are officially ended with a Lantern Festival. People light lanterns and let them off in the sky or in lakes and rivers.
We can see that Chinese have a very different way of celebrating their New Year. They fulfill their cultural traditions in the most joyous way and it last for 15 days. How you be celebrating this day?