Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, falls on the first day of the lunar year. Celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar.
Although regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary, it is more or less the similar.
On the days immediately preceding the New Year, families give their homes a thorough cleaning to sweep away the bad luck of the preceding year and make way for good incoming luck. Homes are often decorated with paper cut-outs of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. Purchasing new clothing and shoes also symbolize a new start and hair cuts need to be completed before the New Year. Markets or village fairs are set up as the New Year is approaching. These usually open-air markets feature New-Year related products such as flowers, toys, clothing, and fireworks. It is a common practice to send gifts to close business associates, and extended family members. The biggest event of any Chinese New Year’s Eve is the Reunion Dinner. In northern China, it is customary to make dumplings after dinner to eat around midnight.
The first day of Chinese New Year is a time to honour one’s elders and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Members of the family who are married also give red envelopes containing cash, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred, to junior members of the family. Small gifts (usually food or sweets) are also exchanged between friends or relatives of different households during Chinese New Year. Common gifts include fruit, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, and sweets. Business managers also give bonuses through red packets to employees. While fireworks and firecrackers were traditionally very popular, some regions have banned them due to concerns over fire hazards. Clothing mainly featuring the colour red or bright colours is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year.
On the second day of the Chinese New Year, known as “beginning of the year”, married daughters visited their birth parents, relatives and close friends. The third day is considered an unlucky day to have guests or go visiting. The fifth day is the god of Wealth’s birthday. In northern China, people eat dumplings in the morning.
On the fifteenth day of the New Year – “Yuanxiao Festival” – rice dumplings (sweet glutinous rice balls brewed in a soup) are eaten. Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. This day often marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.
Auspicious greetings and sayings are exchanged throughout the New Year. Some of the most common ones include:
Xīn nián kuài lè – Happy New Year
Gōng xǐ fā cái – Congratulations and be prosperous
Jīn yù mǎn táng – May your wealth [gold and jade] come to fill a hall
Dà zhǎn hóng tú – May you realize your ambitions”
Yíng chún jiē fú – Greet the New Year and encounter happiness
Wàn shì rú yì – May all your wishes be fulfilled
Jí qìng yǒu yú – May your happiness be without limit
Zhú bào píng’ān – May you hear [in a letter] that all is well
Yī běn wàn lì – May a small investment bring ten-thousandfold profits
Fú shòu shuāng quán – May your happiness and longevity be complete
Zhāo cái jìn bǎo – When wealth is acquired, precious objects follow
Want to spend a very traditional Chinese New Year together with your other half? Why not have a chat with your Chinese girl to find out more about Chinese-New-Year traditions? She will be touched to see you show interest in her culture and maybe it will help you become even closer. You never know, maybe your wishes will come true next year!