Chinese New Year is an important festival in China. Chinese people believe that they have to get everything well prepared for the beginning of the year so that they will have good luck in the following year. Here are some traditions if Chinese New Year.
Before the New Year
1. Cleaning the House – Sweep away the bad luck of the year that’s ending.
2. Prepare for New Look – Buy new clothes or get a haircut.
3. Prepare Foods for New Year – People will purchase fruits that have golden color and homophone with the word “Ji” in some dialects (means good luck in Chinese). Fish is good for it is homophone with “Yu” (means abundant, or extra in Chinese). Noodle is considered an appropriate food because it symbolizes longevity. Candy is good for it symbolizes a “sweet” year. Turnip or Taro cakes (年糕niángāo) are special cakes for the New Year, which has the meaning of improve or get higher every year.
4. Pay off the debts
Lucky Money during Chinese Spring Festival
Lucky money (红包hóngbāo) is prepared in a red envelop which is decorated with lucky symbols. Traditionally, lucky money in Chinese, are passed out during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, from parents, grandparents, or other older relatives to young children. It has become more popular recently for the employers to give out year-end bonus or gift money to their employees for the hard work they have done over the last year. It is believed that giving lucky money is a way of passing wishes of good luck to the youths. Lucky money usually varies from a few dollars to several hundred dollars.
Firecrackers and Fireworks during Chinese Spring Festival
Firecrackers come individually or strung on a long string. They are wrapped in red paper. Chinese New Year begins to unfold amidst the noise of firecrackers. The loud popping noise created by the explosion is thought to scare away evil spirits. Firework displays are often arranged in local cities by government to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Similar displays are also held in many other cities outside China.
The Lion Dance during Chinese Spring Festival
Lion dance is a necessary dance in Chinese New Year. With a few performers, small space, and easily constructed props, the lion dance can be seen in many local places around China in Chinese New Year period. The lion is normally controlled by 2 people, one for the lion head, and the other for the lion body. It takes years of training and practice before the performers can be good enough to give a public performance. It’s no surprise that many lion dancers are also practitioners of Chinese martial arts, such as Kung Fu. The lively display of the lion dance animates the air of festivity in Chinese New Year celebrations.
House Decorations for Chinese New Year
Chinese craft art – The paper-cutting art work is especially popular to serve decorative purposes in this Chinese New Year celebration occasion.
Red banners with the word “fu” meaning happiness are popular decorations hung on fronts doors. It is usually hung upside down since the word “upside down” (倒dào) sounds like arrive, indicating the arrival of good luck or happiness. Other messages like “good fortune”, “good health”, “wealth” or “longevity” are often used as well in the red banners or spring couplets.
Floral decorations for the New Year are also very popular in Chinese families. Flowers are believed to be symbol wealth and prosperity. The following are popular plants for decorations in Chinese New Year.
Peach blossom (symbolizes good luck);
Plum blossom (symbolizes good luck);
Kumquat plants (symbolizes prosperity and happiness);
Narcissus and Chrysanthemum (symbolizes good health and longevity).
Dos and Don’t Dos during Chinese New Year
1. Don’t clean your home during the first day of Chinese New Year. You don’t want to risk sweeping away the good luck of the New Year.
2. Don’t wash your hair on the first day or get a haircut on the first few days in Chinese New Year. It is believed that “cut the hair” or “wash the hair” could cut your prosperity or wash your prosperity away in Chinese.
3. Don’t cry on the first few days of the New Year or raise your voice to your children or you will set a tone of discord for the New Year.
4. Don’t buy books in the first few days in Chinese New Year. “Book” is a homophone for the word “shu” meaning “lose” in Chinese.
5. Don’t buy shoes in the first few days in Chinese New Year. “Shoes” is a homophone for the word “xie” meaning “evil” in Chinese.
6. Don’t talk about death in the first few days of Chinese New Year since it is considered inauspicious.
7. Do open windows and/or doors for it is considered to ‘bring in’ the good luck of the New Year.