Spring Festival – Chinese New Year (Chinese Culture)

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What is Spring Festival?
Chinese New Year is the most important festival in China. It is also known as Spring Festival 春节 [ chūn jié ]. Chinese people celebrate this traditional festival to express their good wishes for the year. During Spring Festival, families get together and celebrate. Endless events are held in public. It is an exciting time for Chinese people as they can take a break from work and go home to visit their parents. To foreigners, it is a good opportunity to learn about Chinese culture such as traditions, food, customs, songs…

When is Spring Festival?
Spring Festival begins the first day of the first month according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar (different from the solar Calendar, it counts 12 months in a year of 354 days). The festival ends with the Lantern Festival, which is on the 15th day. So yes, the whole festival lasts for 15 days. And once the Lantern Festival is over, the winter ends and the spring begins.

Chinese New Year Highlights
What makes the whole festival so exciting is that Chinese people get ready for the series of celebrations about a month in advance. When you start seeing New Year’s food and snack gift boxes showing up at the supermarket, or decorations at big malls and small shops, you know Spring Festival is around the corner. Does it sound like Christmas to you? That’s right, but Chinese people have more than one dinner celebration. For the 15 days of Chinese New Year, it’s all about having food celebrations with family and relatives, watching New Year’s performances such as lion dance, doing New Year’s activities such as setting up firecrackers (mostly in the village not the city) and worshipping gods.

New Year’s Eve
The most important dinner celebration actually takes place on New Year’s Eve, the night before the first day of Chinese New Year. This is a family reunion dinner for all family members to show up and have a big feast. Chinese people believe that after working hard for a whole year, having a big feast with family to end the year is a blessing. To prepare for a big feast, pressure may be on the parents because many of them do not see their working children until this moment, and they are trying to make a perfect dinner. For example, parents may make dumplings by hand and cook fresh seafood along with luxury ingredients. Regarding how they set their dining table for New Years, in general Chinese people do not have a formal dining set up for the New Year Eve’s dinner. Everybody crowds around a round table, eating, drinking, chatting and then taking a break. Back and forth for a few hours until they can’t eat anymore.

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Chinese New Year Words

English Meaning Pinyin Chinese Characters
China zhōng guó 中国
Chinese New Year chūn jié 春节
out with the old, in with the new chú jiù yíng xīn 除旧迎新
Happy New Year xīn nián kuài lè 新年快乐
new xīn de
old jiù
New Year shopping bàn nián huò 办年货
pasting Spring couplets tiē chūn lián 贴春联
spring couplets chūn lián 春联
traditional custom chuán tǒng xí sú 传统习俗
pasting Spring cleaning dà sǎo chú 大扫除