Friday, January 20, 2012

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is China’s biggest holiday. It is also known as the Spring Festival. Each Chinese year is represented by a repeated cycle of 12 animals, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
This year the Chinese New Year is January 22nd through the 25th. Most Chinese will celebrate that whole week, and through the following weekend. They will attend lots of parties with family and friends. There will be lots of food and cakes and candy for everyone to enjoy.
Chinese people often greet one another with “Congratulations and Happy to You” or “Congratulations and be Prosperous” during the Chinese New Year.
As part of the Chinese New Year celebration, people buy presents, decorations, special foods and new clothing. Railroad stations throughout China are filled with travelers who take their vacation days around New Year to return home for a family reunion. It is a time of thanksgiving.
Days before the New Year celebration, Chinese families are busy giving their home a thorough cleaning. It is believed the cleaning sweeps away bad luck and makes the house ready for good luck to enter. All brooms and dust pans are put away on New Year’s Eve so good luck cannot be swept away. They also buy new clothes to symbolize a new beginning in the New Year.
In many homes, doors and windowpanes get a fresh coat of red paint. The home is decorated with paper cut-outs and poems for happiness, wealth, longevity, and happy marriage with children. Red is the main color used in New Year celebrations. Red is the emblem of joy, and virtue, truth and sincerity.
The New Year’s Eve supper is a feast with all the members of the family getting together. Some popular foods are dumplings boiled in water, and sweet rice rolled into balls and stuffed with sweet or spicy fillings. After dinner, the whole family stays up all night playing cards, board games or watching TV programs dedicated to the New Year’s celebration. Lights in the house are kept on during the whole night. At midnight, the sky is lit up by fireworks which symbolize the sending out of the old year and the welcoming in of the New Year. People open all the windows and doors in the house in order to let the old year go out.
Very early the next morning, children greet their parents and receive their New Year present. They get lucky red envelopes with money inside. Children are indulged by their parents on this day. The rest of the first day of the New Year is spent visiting relatives and friends.
Chinese New Year is a time for reconciliation. Old grudges are forgiven. People are warm and friendly toward one another, and sometimes they exchange gifts.
Dragon and lion dances are common during the Chinese New Year. It is believed that the loud beats of the drum and deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively will chase away bad spirits.
On the last day of the New Year’s celebration begins the Festival of the Lanterns. They celebrate with lantern shows and folk dances. Children display their lanterns in a night time parade. This is when the Chinese people welcome the first full moon of the New Year. The Festival of the Lanterns mark the end of the New Year’s celebration and life goes back to normal.

Happy New Year to everyone! May this year bring you luck and prosperity!

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