春节是什么——What is it Spring Festival?The Spring Festival is the most important festival for the Chinese people and is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West. The Spring Festival falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month, often one month later than the Gregorian calendar.
It originated in the Shang Dynasty from the people's sacrifice to gods and ancestors at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. Strictly speaking, the Spring Festival starts every year in the early days of the 12th lunar month and will last till the mid 1st lunar month of the next year. Of them, the most important days are Spring Festival Eve and the first three days. Most people will have a week off, thus, this time is known as golden week.
春节习俗都有啥?——Spring Festival Traditions1. 大扫除——Spring Cleaning
“Dust”(尘) is homophonic with “chen”(陈)in Chinese, which means old and past. In this way, “sweeping the dust” before the Spring Festival means a thorough cleaning of houses to sweep away bad luck in the past year.
Chinese people believe that in order to receive the new luck, you have to swipe the bad luck. All the cleaning has to be done before the end of New Year's Eve, that's what Chinese people always called "Ci Jiu Ying Xin" : saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.
2. 贴窗花——paper Cut
After the thoroughly clean up, people will paste paper-cut decorations on the windows and doors. paper-cuts, usually with auspicious patterns, give a happy and prosperous atmosphere of the Festival and express the good wishes of Chinese people looking forward to a good life.
It is common for Chinese to paste the character "fu(福)", big and small, on walls, doors and doorposts around the houses. "Fu(福)" shows people's yearning toward a good life. Some people even invert the character “Fu(福)" to signify that blessing has arrived because "inverted" is a homonym for "arrive" in Chinese.
3. 贴春联——Spring Couplet
"The Spring Couplet", also called "couplet" and "a pair of antithetical phrases", is a special form of literature in China. The Spring Couplet is composed of two antithetical sentences on both sides of the door and a horizontal scroll bearing an inscription, usually an auspicious phrase, above the gate.
Whether the family is rich or poor, educated or ignorant, everyone must put on the Spring Couplet to symbolize the hopes for the coming new year.
4. 年夜饭/团圆饭——Family Reunion Dinner
The Spring Festival is a time for the Chinese to have family reunion, on Chinese New Year's Eve(Chu Xi), the whole family must sit at the table to eat the New Year's Supper together.
This meal is usually made from scratch with the entire family working together, and this meal is usually the most sumptuous meal of the year. In the New Year's Supper, it is essential that some dishes contain the family wishes for the New Year.
年糕，or the New Year's Cake, is very common in Southern China, it is made of sticky rice. In Chinese, niangao sounds like "getting higher year by year". In Chinese people's mind, the higher you are, the more prosperous your business is.
饺子, or the stuffed Dumpling, is a very common Northern Chinese Dish, Chinese dumplings look like silver ingots. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during New Year celebration, the more money you can make in the New Year.
When making these dumplings, coins and pennies are usually put into selected few, those lucky family members that happen to eat those special dumplings are believed to have special good fortune in the upcoming year.
Lighting Firecrackers used to be one of the most important customs in the Spring Festival celebration. However, concerning the danger and the negative noises that lighting firecrackers may bring, the government has banned this practice in many major cities.
But people in small towns and rural areas still hold to this traditional celebration. Right as the clock strike 12 o'clock midnight of New Year's Eve, cities and towns are lit up with the glitter from fireworks, and the sound can be deafening.
6. 红包/压岁钱——Red packet/Lucky Money
Children love Spring Festival because they can receive red packet! What A red packet is simply a red envelope with lucky money in it, which symbolizes luck and wealth.
In traditional Chinese cultural, red is considered a lucky color, red packet is believed to ward off evial spirits and to bring good fortune to the receiver. Traditionally, older generations give the red packet to the younger generation. Nowadays, this practice extends to close friends, neighbors, and even some companies give away year-end bonus in the red packets.
The Chinese zodiac features 12 animals in the sequence of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and pig. This year is the year of Monkey.
Each animal represents a different "personality". According to legend, people held a conference with all the animals, informing them that they would pick the 12 to represent the zodiac. However, in spite of being fast, the cat was not picked as its then-close friend, the rat, did not wake it. This action sparked off a rivalry that continues till this day.