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Chinese New Year

A traditional Chinese holiday

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A Quick Tip by TanChengling

  • Sep 15, 2011
  • by

The Spring Festival is the most important festival for the Chinese people and is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West. All people living away from home go back, becoming the busiest time for transportation systems of about half a month from the Spring Festival. Airports, railway stations and long-distance bus stations are crowded with home returnees.

The Spring Festival falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month, often one month later than the Gregorian calendar. It originated in the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC-c. 1100 BC) from the people's sacrifice to gods and ancestors at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one.

Strictly speaking, the Spring Festival starts every year in the early days of the 12th lunar month and will last till the mid 1st lunar month of the next year. Of them, the most important days are Spring Festival Eve and the first three days. The Chinese government now stipulates people have seven days off for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Many customs accompany the Spring Festival. Some are still followed today, but others have weakened.

On the 8th day of the 12th lunar month, many families make laba porridge, a delicious kind of porridge made with glutinous rice, millet, seeds of Job's tears, jujube berries, lotus seeds, beans, longan and gingko.


The 23rd day of the 12th lunar month is called Preliminary Eve. At this time, people offer sacrifice to the kitchen god. Now however, most families make delicious food to enjoy themselves.

After the Preliminary Eve, people begin preparing for the coming New Year. This is called "Seeing the New Year in".

Store owners are busy then as everybody goes out to purchase necessities for the New Year. Materials not only include edible oil, rice, flour, chicken, duck, fish and meat, but also fruit, candies and kinds of nuts. What's more, various decorations, new clothes and shoes for the children as well as gifts for the elderly, friends and relatives, are all on the list of purchasing.

Before the New Year comes, the people completely clean the indoors and outdoors of their homes as well as their clothes, bedclothes and all their utensils.

Then people begin decorating their clean rooms featuring an atmosphere of rejoicing and festivity. All the door panels will be pasted with Spring Festival couplets, highlighting Chinese calligraphy with black characters on red paper. The content varies from house owners' wishes for a bright future to good luck for the New Year. Also, pictures of the god of doors and wealth will be posted on front doors to ward off evil spirits and welcome peace and abundance.


The Chinese character "fu" (meaning blessing or happiness) is a must. The character put on paper can be pasted normally or upside down, for in Chinese the "reversed fu" is homophonic with "fu comes", both being pronounced as "fudaole." What's more, two big red lanterns can be raised on both sides of the front door. Red paper-cuttings can be seen on window glass and brightly colored New Year paintings with auspicious meanings may be put on the wall.

People attach great importance to Spring Festival Eve. At that time, all family members eat dinner together. The meal is more luxurious than usual. Dishes such as chicken, fish and bean curd cannot be excluded, for in Chinese, their pronunciations, respectively "ji", "yu" and "doufu," mean auspiciousness, abundance and richness. After the dinner, the whole family will sit together, chatting and watching TV. In recent years, the Spring Festival party broadcast on China Central Television Station (CCTV) is essential entertainment for the Chinese both at home and abroad. According to custom, each family will stay up to see the New Year in.


Waking up on New Year, everybody dresses up. First they extend greetings to their parents. Then each child will get money as a New Year gift, wrapped up in red paper. People in northern China will eat jiaozi, or dumplings, for breakfast, as they think "jiaozi" in sound means "bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new". Also, the shape of the dumpling is like gold ingot from ancient China. So people eat them and wish for money and treasure.

Southern Chinese eat niangao (New Year cake made of glutinous rice flour) on this occasion, because as a homophone, niangao means "higher and higher, one year after another." The first five days after the Spring Festival are a good time for relatives, friends, and classmates as well as colleagues to exchange greetings, gifts and chat leisurely.


Burning fireworks was once the most typical custom on the Spring Festival. People thought the spluttering sound could help drive away evil spirits. However, such an activity was completely or partially forbidden in big cities once the government took security, noise and pollution factors into consideration. As a replacement, some buy tapes with firecracker sounds to listen to, some break little balloons to get the sound too, while others buy firecracker handicrafts to hang in the living room.

The lively atmosphere not only fills every household, but permeates to streets and lanes. A series of activities such as lion dancing, dragon lantern dancing, lantern festivals and temple fairs will be held for days. The Spring Festival then comes to an end when the Lantern Festival is finished.

China has 56 ethnic groups. Minorities celebrate their Spring Festival almost the same day as the Han people, and they have different customs.
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More Chinese New Year reviews
review by . February 09, 2010
posted in Go China
Tiger reigns for 2010
Chinese New Year celebration lasts for 15 days every year (bet most of you didn't know that! ;-)). The first day of the year is the start of a new moon. This year, it is on the exact same day as Valentine's Day, ie. Feb. 14, 2010. Countries with Chinese as majority will be having at a long weekend til next Tuesday or Wednesday. In China, the Chinese New Year holidays last for an entire week. This year, the first day of work in the Year of The Tiger shall be on Feb. 20.    …
Quick Tip by . February 04, 2011
posted in Go China
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Happy Rabbit Year to all Chinese in the world & on Lunch.com! Eat, drink & be merry!!!
Quick Tip by . February 04, 2011
posted in Go Hong Kong
15 days of feasting & festivities for the Chinese around the world. 1st day of the Year of Rabbit begins on Feb. 3 this year (2011) and will last until Feb. 17. 恭喜發財!!!
Quick Tip by . February 14, 2010
Gong hei fatt choy, everyone! :)
Quick Tip by . February 09, 2010
Spring Festival & Valentine's Day coincides for 1st time since 1953 (ie 57 years ago). The next time will be in 2048 (38 years later)!
About the reviewer
Tan Chengling 谭称玲 ()
Ranked #1035
   I'm a teacher ; interested in music, languages, novels, movies and sports.      This is my blog where I share about language, music and culture.      … more
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Wiki

 Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is often called the Lunar New Year, especially by people in mainland China and Taiwan. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: zhēng yuè) in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxī. It literally means "Year-pass Eve".

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Lunar Calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Ancient Chinese New Year is a reflection on how the people behaved and what they believed in the most.

Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873. Outside of Mainland China,Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, Chinese New Year is also celebrated in countries with significant Han Chinese populations, such asSingapore, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. In Canada, although Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, many ethnic Chinese hold large ...
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