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Chinese New Year

The date of the Chinese New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) vary every year, following the lunar calendar. In 2015, the Spring Festival begins on the 19th of February and ends on the 5th of March with the Lantern Festival. During the Chinese New Year people are in holidays for one week nevertheless the only first three days are statutory holidays, the three others days have been added to give seven consecutive days off for Chinese people. In 2015, Asia enters in the Goat Year, lovely creature of the Chinese lunar calendar, in a concert of fireworks and firecrackers from Beijing to Singapore. The goat or ‘Yang’ in Chinese, is considered to be free, creative, artistic often spendthrift and have problems with authority, thus, lot of decorations of this animal were set up.

chinese-new-Year-decorations-along-New-Bridge-Road-Singapore

Chinese new Year goat decorations along New Bridge Road Singapore

Chinatown singapore lanterns for the lantern festival

Chinatown singapore lanterns for the Lantern festival

 

Festivities


To resume this event, we can say that each day is consecrated to certain things:


Before the New Year’s Day- People do shopping, cleanse and decorate their home.


For the New Year’s Eve-The family is reunited for the dinner, and there is the Shou Sui, that’s means that people stay awake until midnight after the fireworks, because fireworks are supposed to keep at bay the “Year” the harmful beast. Thus the year will be prosperous and great.


The first Day of the New Year-People stay at home, or greet each other (older relatives and friends).


The second Day-dedicated to the religion; there are religious ceremonies to honour the gods.


The third day-some ceremonies are prepared to honour the ancestors.


The end of the festivities – There is the Yuan Xiao festival also known as the Lantern Festival.


 Origins of this celebration

The Chinese New Year is more than 4 000 years old. People had to do sacrifices to the deities and pray for a good harvest.Some legends and tales narrates that the beginning of the Chinese New Year is related with a fight against a mythical beast called the “Year”. This beast looked like an ox with a lion head which lived in the sea. During the night of the New Year’s Eve, the animal would have come out to harm people, animal and properties. Afterwards, people realized that the beast was afraid by the red color, fire and loud sounds. That’s why to protect themselves from the harmful creature, people started to post red Dui Lian in front of their house door, launch fireworks and hang lanterns at the year end.

Traffic is in chaos

It seems the whole nation is on the move during the festival. This is the busiest travel season in China. Trains, buses even flight tickets are not easy to get. Chinese people are able to do whatever they want to go home and see their family; they are ready to queuing for three days, fighting for a ticket or to stand for 20 hours in an over-packed train to spend this precious moment with their family. China’s migrants workers are the main force during the migration. They carry heavy bags full of gifts, they traveled generally from China’s city back to their hometowns.

China traffic jam city

China traffic jam city

The most important family reunion of the year

This celebration is most of all celebrated in the Southeast and Southern parts of Asia and merely where Chinese Diasporas are located. Chinese New Year permits family to gather, have good time and eat a special food together in this occasion. For this most important day of the year, the New Year’s Eve is called Reunion Dinner or “Nian Ye Fan” in Chinese. Chinese people were having great moments with their family of several generations.

Two girls dressed in red in Hong Kong for the Chinese New Year

 During the dinner, one dish of meat (namely, pork and chicken), fish and dumpling are prepared. These dishes signify prosperity. Dumplings are the most important dish in northern China; traditionally they are cooked in family for this long-awaited event. Most reunion dinners also feature a commercial hot pot as it is believed to signify the coming together of the family members for the meal. In the southern regions, most reunion dinners are featured with meats (like wax-cured meats like duck and Chinese sausage) and seafood (like lobster and abalone).

Tan Yuan is a ball created with glutinous rice flour, which is mixed with a small amount of water to make balls and then it is cooked and served in boiling water. They can be either filled or unfilled. This food is traditionally served during Yuan Xiao or the Lantern Festival (the 15th of the first month of the Chinese calendar).

Furthermore, there is a food called LaBa Congee which is a mixture of rice, nuts and beans cooked together. This dish is usually served at the LaBa festival, the day 8th of the last month of the year. Eight individual dishes are served to respect the belief of good fortune associated with the number. Moreover, a lot of the Chinese food names are homophones for words that also mean good things. Several foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness and good fortune. Most of Chinese people will have New Year’s Eve dinner at home rather than in restaurant, even if it’s started to be more common.

chinese-children-driverlayer-search-engine

Chinese children wearing red dress for the New Year

Chinese habits and customs

It’s very traditional for each family to cleanse the house, in this way they sweep away any ill-fortune and they make a way for the good coming luck.After the cleaning, people will decorate their house to welcome this New Year, the major part of the decoration is in the color red, most popular decoration are like upside down fu, dui lian, lanterns, year paint, paper cutting, door goods, etc. The red is seen as an auspicious color, it is synonym as good fortune or “happiness” “longevity”  and “wealth”. Compared to Christmas in the West, people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival. The gifts given to the children and retired seniors are wrapped in red envelopes which contain money.

What to do during Chinese New Year

From midnight, the Chinese capital is full of thousands of fireworks; the crowd invades the streets with the noise of the firecrackers supposed to keep away the harmful spirits.

Shanghai

Shanghai celebrates the Spring Festival with diverse entertainments. Various activities, for Shanghai folks are settled in squares and beside the Huangpu River. In several theatres, concert halls and art centres are performed very high-quality live concerts, from all music style. Furthermore, traditional big events are organized in temples such as Longhua temple, City God Temple and Jing’an Temple, to ring the bell and turn on the first incense, which will bring a good luck to them for the Goat Year.

chinese-new-year-lama-temple

People praying and switching on incenses in Lama Temple for the Chinese New Year.Hong Kong

Hong-Kong

The celebration of the New Year’s Eve in Hong-Kong is different from the rest of the country; it is much like a blending of new and ancient habits. On the 19th of February there are carnival-like night parade, and bands from all over the world. On the second day of the Spring Fest, thousands of people are glad to see an unforgettable giant firework display. But the main highlight of the show is of course, the Spring Festival race called Sha Tin Racecourse bring to a close of colorful and traditional festivities.

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Chinatown’s street of Manhattan during the Chinese New Year

萬事如意

Wànshìrúyì  in Chinese

“May all your wishes be fulfilled !”

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