Chinese New Year customs

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival is the main Chinese festival of the year. Reporters as Lauren Mack and Rose Mathews have written about Chinese traditional New Year celebration. In China it is customary to offer foods that symbolize prosperity, wealth, and good health. This goes in observing superstitious beliefs or traditions, since it is also their traditions for Chinese New Year to avoid things that could bring bad luck.

As the Chinese use the lunar calendar for their festivals, the date of Chinese New Year changes from year to year. The date corresponds to the new moon. This year, 2014, their New Year Eve falls on January 31 and they are entering the year of the Horse leaving behind the year of the Snake. Yin Hengmin, the ambassador of People’s Republic of China in Belgrade told that the horse is the symbol of speed and skill and that it is very friendly with humans and animals

This video is a special program on Chinese New Year. There, Alina Wang and Ben Hedges take a look at some of the traditions such as Lion Dancing, Firecrackers, Red Packets and more.

  • Chinese people are very superstitious; they have guidelines to avoid having bad luck in the incoming year. These are some of the habits they have to chase away bad luck:

Cleaning: Chinese people avoid sweeping the floor on New Year and on the first day of the New Year as they can sweep the good luck away as well, when they clean their home.

Killing animals: They avoid killing animals in the morning whether it is a duck or chicken. Many Chinese associate knives to slaughter and it is a bad omen to kill animals on a New Year.

Buying Books and Shoes: Buy a book before the New Year since bookshop will close on this day as they associate book to “lose”. Buying shoes is a bad idea as well. In Cantonese the word shoes in homonym are “rough” and so buying a new shoe will give them a rough ride throughout the year.

Broken Glass: Throwing broken glassware or mirror during the first day of Chinese New Year can bring bad luck. In case of breaking something, they have to pick up the pieces, wrap them in a red paper and wait for at least 5 days.

  • Besides having superstitious customs, the Chinese also have traditions to celebrate the arrival of the New Year:

Fireworks: After the 12:00PM of the New Year’s Eve, Fireworks will start the celebration of the New Year as well as driven away the evil.

Shou Sui: Shou Sui occurs after the reunion dinner. People talk about the year that has passed while they welcome the year that has arrived.

Red Packets: Red packet is a red envelope with money in it. Usually the red racket is given by adults, to young children in the New Year days.

Decoration: People decorate the house to welcome the New Year and the main color to decorate is the red. The most popular New Year decorations are upside down fu, dui lian, lantern, year paint, papercutting, door god, etc…

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  • The most important tradition for Chinese is The New Year’s Eve dinner. In this dinner, normally fish will be served. The majority of Chinese will have New Year’s Eve dinner at home instead of restaurant.

Dumplings: Dumplings are cooked balls of dough. They are based on flour, potatoes or bread, and may include meat, fish, vegetables, or sweets.  They are very popular in Northern China. It is one of the main disks for New Year’s Eve dinner.

New Year Cake: It is solid cake made with glutinous rice flour together with some sugar. New Year Cake is popular in Eastern China.

Tang Yuan: Tang Yuan is small ball made from glutinous rice flour, mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and is then cooked and served in boiling water.

Here I add a web page that gives ideas to buy for Chinese New Year Eve dinner and shows a market were you can by traditional Chinese food in Daoxiangcun:  http://www.chinaculture.org/focus/focus/2011springfestival/2011-01/27/content_405002.htm 

Sources:

(2014) Rose Mathews. Lista de las tradiciones familiares durante el año nuevo Chino. In eHow en Español, retrieved on February 2014 from http://www.ehowenespanol.com/lista-tradiciones-familiares-durante-ano-nuevo-chino-info_226806/

(2014) Lauren Mack. Chinese New Year: Chinese New Year’s Day – Learn how to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Day. In About.com, retrieved on January 2014 from http://chineseculture.about.com/od/chinesefestivals/a/Chinese-New-Year-Chinese-New-Years-Day.htm

(2014) Lauren Mack. Chinese New Year: Chinese New Year’s Eve – Learn how to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve. In About.com, retrieved on January 2014 from http://chineseculture.about.com/od/chinesefestivals/a/Chinese-New-Year-Chinese-New-Years-Eve.htm

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