The Chinese New Year, also known in China as The Spring Festival, is a time of celebration and renewal. It is an ancient holiday and is the grandest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar, which follows the Chinese lunar calendar. The holiday begins on the second new moon after the Winter solstice and ends 15 days later on the full moon.
Traditionally, Spring Festival was a time to honor ancestors and deities. Today, it is still a time for remembering and honoring, but traditions and customs vary across different regions. Culturally, Chinese New Year is a time for families to come together. New Year’s Eve dinner, called The Reunion Dinner, is typically considered the most important meal of the year. People travel long distances to be home with their families for The Reunion Dinner and Spring Festival celebrations.
New Year’s Eve fireworks go off at midnight to celebrate the coming year and drive away evil spirits. There is an ancient legend that says a cruel and ferocious mythical beast named “Year” would come out on New Year’s Eve to harm families and their homes. Year is afraid of red, fire and loud sounds, so to scare him off people would light fireworks and decorate villages with red. That tradition is continued today as streets and homes are decorated in the “lucky color” red and fireworks are set off during festival time. Children are given “lucky money” in red envelopes and people hang red lanterns and wear red clothing during the festival days. Each Chinese year also has a corresponding animal. 2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey, so monkey ornaments are also a prevalent part of festival decor.
Many people will take time off work to prepare for New Year. It is customary to do a complete cleaning of the house to get rid of the old and welcome the new, leaving room for incoming luck. Many people will also do shopping for food for festivities and new clothes for the coming year.
On the 15th day, there is the lantern festival. It marks the end of the 2-week New Year holiday, the first full moon of the year and the first big important meal after Spring Festival. It is a day to marvel at the red lanterns displayed in homes, stores, streets and parades. Festivities include the well-known Dragon Dance, lantern riddles and more fireworks.
The Chinese New Year is beautiful time of rest, renewal and joyfulness. It’s a time to spend with family and friends, enjoying food and festivities and the celebration of life.
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