The Chinese New Year Celebration
The Spring Festival (Chun Jie, 春节) or the Chinese New Year is the most important festival for the Chinese people. It is a big occasion when all family members get together and celebrate, especially at the Spring Festival Eve and during the first days of the New Year.
Chinese New Year is determined by the Lunar calendar and usually occurs between January 21 and February 20. 2014 is the year of Horse and the new year will starts from 31st of January.
Many families make a special porridge called laba. In the old time it meant a good harvest year.
Six days before Spring Festival Eve people clean their homes. Three days after that, they wash their clothes and linen. With two days remaining, people start putting up New Years decorations. Red paper-cuttings (chuang hua, 窗花) in windows are a common sight. Pictures of the god of doors (Men shen, 门神) will be posted on front doors to ward off evil spirits and welcome peace and abundance.
The Chinese character "Fu" (福 meaning blessing or happiness) is a must. The character will be pasted upside down, for in Mandarin the "reversed Fu" means "Fu comes".
The biggest event of any Chinese New Year's Eve is the Reunion Dinner. A meal consisting of fish (yu 鱼, pronounced the same as abundance) is a must.
In northern China they also make dumplings (jiǎozi, 饺子), because " jiǎozi"sounds like "bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new" in Chinese.
In southern China they make a New Year’s Cake (niángāo,年糕,) and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends. It means "increasingly prosperous year in and year out”.
After dinner, many families will light firecrackers to scare away evil spirits according to the old tales. Due to local restrictions, some people just play recorded sounds of fire crackers. The annual CCTV New Year's Gala (chun wan, 春晚) is broadcasted live at the Spring Festival Eve. It has a record of one billion viewers.
The first day of the New Year people greet their loved ones. Young people get Lucky Money wrapped up in red paper (Hong bao, 红包) by their parents, relatives and parents’ friends.
On the 15th day of the New Year the Lantern Festival starts (yuan xiao 元宵节). People eat rice balls (yuanxiao 元宵, or Tang yuan 汤圆) and children go out at night with paper lanterns to solve riddles. It officially ends the Chinese New Year celebrations.