We all know that for Chinese people, the Chinese New Year is a very important festival. The Chinese New Year is the start of the year on the lunar calendar. People usually have a family reunion to celebrate a new start and wish each other a happy life in the coming days. The Chinese New Year always occurs at the end of the winter and the beginning of spring, so it can also be called The Spring Festival.
Before the Chinese New Year, people prepare and wait for the day. The whole celebration lasts about one month until The Lantern Festival.
To prepare, people bid farewell to the Kitchen God on the lunar calendar the 23rd of December, and people also do the annual housecleaning on the 24th of December. Then people do festival shopping for food and gifts. In the old days, people lived a poor life and couldn't get delicious food regularly, so the Chinese New Year was a festival where all people could enjoy delicious food, drinks and gifts. This was and still is a feel-good time of the year.
Before the the eve of the Chinese New Year, people stick spring couplets on their doors and also colorful, joyful pictures on the walls of their homes. The eve of the festival is also very important because of a special dinner many families have together. This dinner means a lot. Even if Chinese workers work very far away from home, many will return home for this dinner with their families. There are fireworks and firecrackers, and you hear the sound of them all around you on that day.
There's another tradition for most of the Chinese people, the CCTV's (Chinese TV stations) Spring Festival Gala. Although nowadays people have more choices than ever, this show is still important to most of the Chinese people. Some people talk or watch TV the whole night, which means that if you can stay up all night long before the first day of the New Year, it'll bring you good luck.
Then comes the most important day, New Year's Day itself. On that day people give red packets(most of the time filled with money) to their children and relatives (usually kids). People go out and visit relatives and friends to share the joy together. They meet each other with New Year greetings, like Gongxi facai and Wanshi ruyi which mean “good luck” and “all the best.” Some people who live far away from each other send their regards by the Internet or by mobile phones. No matter how far they are, they care about each other and want to share New Year happiness together.
On the second day, a married daughter will go back to her parent's home with her husband and children to celebrate together. According to the tradition, the third day is not suitable for visiting because people think if they visit each other, they will easily get into quarrels! But because the holiday time is limited, few people still mind that.
On the fourth day, many people prepare to welcome the Kitchen God back. On the fifth day, it's the day for the God of Wealth, and people prepare sacrifices (such as meat) and delicious food. All the streets are busy during the first five days of the New Year, and stores don't open until the sixth day. During this period, scissors are not supposed to be used because people think scissors will cut out their good luck. Sweeping the floor is also discouraged. People think that if you sweep out dust and dirt from your home, your fortune will follow with it. So from the second to the fifth day of the first month, if you do clean, the rubbish should be kept until the sixth day of the first month.
On the seventh day, the holiday ends and many people have to go back to work. But the celebration still carries on, and people continue to meet each other with festival greetings and wishes for good luck.
Another big celebration is on the fifteenth day which we call The Lantern Festival. On that day, people eat Yuanxiao, guess lantern riddles and enjoy the beautiful lanterns hung in the streets. After that, life goes back to normal, but the joy and also the hope for a good life is still kept in the Chinese people's hearts.
Hero image by Daniel Lee (CC-BY-ND-2.0)