For a tourists who decides to spend the Lunar New year in China, be ready to experience a week full of festivities enriched in Chinese culture.
Almost similar to the Western New Year, the Chinese New Year is popularly recognized as the Spring Festival and its celebration lasts for a period of about 15 days. There is no particular place to enjoy the celebration other than China itself. In almost every city and towns across the country, the same traditions are practiced, so basking in the celebration of a Chinese New Year in China is a great experience.
The preparations begin a month before the date of the Chinese New Year and people start buying decorations, food, clothing and presents. There is a major all round house cleaning before the New Year as the entire house is cleaned from top to bottom to sweep away traces of bad luck. Red is a significant color in the Chinese culture as all window panes, doors and frames are painted in red and decorated with paper cuts and couplets signifying wealth, happiness and longevity. The color Red is meant to drive away evil spirits and the colors black and white are not to be seen as it is associated with mourning.
The eve of the New Year is the most exciting part of the occasion. As anticipation creeps in to the upcoming year, traditions and rituals are observed from food to clothing. Most Chinese families cook and prepare dinner which is usually a feast of seafood and dumplings significantly having different goodwill wishes. Delicacies such as prawns signify happiness and liveliness, while raw fish salad means prosperity and good luck. Dried oysters signify all good things and Fai-hai (an edible sea weed) brings prosperity. If you have a dinner of dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi), this signifies long lost good wish for a family. When dinner is over, all members of the family sit up all night playing cards and board games. At midnight, a display of fireworks is lit up in the sky.
On the New Year day itself, Hong Bao meaning Red Packet is an ancient custom which is practiced. This custom involves married couples distributing red envelopes filled with money to young children and single adults. The families move from door to door saying greetings and wishing each other well.
The end of the Spring Festival is marked by the Lantern festival of Yuanxiao Festival which is a celebration of singing, dancing and lantern shows. It takes place under a full moon with thousands of colorful lanterns for people to appreciate. A stimulating part of the event is the spectacular backdrop for lion dances, dragon dances, and fireworks display. An important part of the Lantern festival is eating small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour.
The Lunar New Year is indeed an important and significant event in the Chinese society and experiencing the event first hand with the real Chinese people is always the best way to experience tradition and culture of the celebration.
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About the Author:
Lola writes for Passport to China. An inbound tour operating company serving as your gateway to Tours in China.