Chinese New Year: Tradition and Celebrations

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional festival in China. The blog includes preparations leading up to the New Year, festivities on Chinese New Year, tradition and celebrations during the Spring Festival, greeting the god of wealth, and the growing recognition of Chinese New Year. 

Preparation Before Chinese New Year

As Chinese New Year’s Eve approaches, families partake in a thorough house-cleaning ritual and offer prayers to their ancestors for blessings in the upcoming year. Moreover, homes are adorned with red lanterns, couplets, paper cuttings, and paintings, and so on. These decorations create a lively and festive atmosphere, signaling the joyful anticipation of the New Year, symbolizing prosperity, fortune, and protection from malevolent forces. 

Additionally, families prepare a variety of auspicious foods such as fish, dumplings, spring rolls, sticky rice cake, and more as part of the celebrations. Tips: Dumplings resemble money pouches, and spring rolls symbolize bars of gold, both signifying fortune and prosperity for the upcoming year, as do the other traditional foods.

Chinese New Year’s Eve 

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, families come together to enjoy traditional dishes, capture special moments with photographs or short videos, and exchange New Year’s greetings on WeChat, a communication platform akin to a fusion of Whatsapp and Instagram. Another cherished tradition is the exchange of “lucky money,” which involves giving red envelopes filled with money believed to bring good fortune and blessings to children.

During the Eve, teenagers often engage in activities such as playing poker or party games on their phones or platforms like Switch, while adults may chat with each other and play mahjong. Additionally, families gather to watch CCTV’s New Year Gala, a significant cultural event featuring performances by esteemed singers, dancers, actors, and acrobats, akin in significance to the Super Bowl in the USA.  

Chinese New Year’s Day

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day, families set off firecrackers and fireworks to usher in the New Year. Also, blessings about next year would be sent in Wechat moments, similar to sharing feeds on Instagram, spreading warm wishes and good fortune. This lively tradition is believed to attract fortune and good luck, while the explosive sounds symbolize the dispelling of negativity and celebration of a prosperous future. 

After a brief rest, people adorn themselves in new clothes, partake in exchanging New Year’s greetings, and go out for celebratory activities.  These activities include visits to temples for offering incense and worshiping, enjoying the vibrant festive ambiance in scenic spots, and participating in traditional activities such as captivating lion dances that enrich the cultural experience.

During Spring Festival

Historically, traditional Spring Festival celebrations spanned 15 days until the Lantern Festival, but recently, these festivities have commonly condensed to 7 days in alignment with the official Chinese holiday. During this time, visiting relatives and friends, exchanging gifts and warm greetings, and engaging in heartfelt conversations about recent happenings and future plans. Additionally, it is also a tradition for some to pay respects to their ancestors by visiting their tombs during this time.

God of Wealth, Caishen

In Chinese religion, Caishen is revered as the god of wealth, widely believed to bring prosperity with the riches carried by his followers. On the 5th day of the Spring Festival, it is customary to welcome Caishen for the upcoming year. The atmosphere is filled with the sounds of firecrackers and drums, creating a lively and celebratory ambiance similar to Chinese New Year’s Eve. Families prepare grand offerings to honor the arrival of Caishen. 

Growing Recognition of Chinese New Year

On December 22, 2023, the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to formally establish the Chinese New Year as a UN holiday in its calendar of conferences and meetings, commencing in 2024. This significant decision has not only recognized but also boosted global transmission for Chinese culture.  

Author’s Message

A cold storm from the north has brought travel disruptions to the northern and central parts of China since last week. The severe weather has forced the suspension of railway services and the closure of highways. Millions unable to make it back to their hometowns for the Spring Festival. I hope that everyone is able to safely reunite with their families for the Chinese New Year celebrations.  

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