Published on January 21, 2016
1. Spring Festival Prepared by Karen Chinese Spring Festival, also called Lunar New Year, has more than 4,000 years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the grandest and the most important festival for Chinese people. It is also the time for the whole families to get together, which is similar with Christmas Day to the westerners. Originating during the Shang Dynasty (about 17th - 11th century BC), Spring Festival, which celebrates family reunion, is full of rich and colorful activities, and new hopes with the advent of spring and flowers blossoming. People from different regions and different ethnic groups celebrate it in their unique ways
2. Spring Festival Prepared by Karen Festival Time The Spring Festival comes on the first day of Chinese lunar calendar and lasts for almost half of a month. But in folk custom, this traditional holiday lasts from the 23rd day of the twelfth month to the 15th day of the first month (Lantern Festival) in the lunar calendar. Among these days, the New Year’s Eve and the first day of the New Year is the peak time of the festival. The exact days are different in every year according to the lunar calendar. Schedule of the Spring Festival in recent years is offered in the following table. History It is said that the custom of Spring Festival started in when people offered sacrifice to ancestors in the last month of the lunar calendar. At that time, people prepared the sacrifice by doing thorough cleaning, having bathes and so on. Later, people began to worship different deities as well on that day. It is the time that almost all the farm works were done and people have free time. The sacrificing time changed according to the farming schedule and was not fixed until Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD). The customs of worshipping deities and ancestors remains even though the ceremonies are not as grand as before. It is also the time that spring is coming, so people held all kinds of ceremonies to welcome the spring. Legends There are many legends about the festival in Chinese culture. In folk culture, the Spring Festival is also called "guonian” (meaning “passing a year”). It is said that the "nian” (year) was a strong monster which was fierce and cruel and ate one kind of animal including human being a day. Human beings were scared about it and had to hide on the evening when the “nian” came out. Later, people found that “nian” was very scared about the red color and fireworks. So after that, people use red color and fireworks or firecrackers to drive away "nian” every year. As a result, the custom of using red color and setting off fireworks remains. Customs and Practices Every family does a thorough house cleaning and purchases enough food, including fish, meat, roasted nuts and seeds, all kinds of candies and fruits, etc, for the festival period. Also, new clothes must be bought, especially for children. Red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets, one line on each side of the gate, are pasted at every gate. The Chinese character 'Fu' is pasted on the center of the door and paper-cuts adorn windows. Before the eve of the New Year, everyone tries to come back home from every corner of the country to join the entire family. A new tablecloth was put on the dining table.
3. Spring Festival Prepared by Karen New dishes and new chopsticks were brought out. The beds were made up with new sheets, new pillow cases and blanket covers. The sweetmeat and melon seed dishes were filled. Fragrant Chinese narcissus plants with only fresh blossoms and buds were purchased from vendors. The living room and altar were decorated with pomelos, oranges, tangerines, New Year puddings and blooming narcissus plants. Sweeping the Dust “Dust” is homophonic with “chen”（尘）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. This custom shows a good wish of putting away old things to welcome a new life. In a word, just before the Spring Festival comes, every household will give a thorough cleaning to bid farewell to the old year and usher in the new. Pasting Spring Couplets “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. The sentence pasting on the right side of the door is called the first line of the couplet and the one on the left the second line. On the eve of the Spring Festival, every household will paste on doors a spring couplet written on red paper to give a happy and prosperous atmosphere of the Festival. In the past, the Chinese Pasting Paper-cuts and “Up-sided Fu”
4. Spring Festival Prepared by Karen 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. In addition to pasting paper-cuts on windows, 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. Now many kinds of paper-cuts and “fu（福）” can be seen in the market before the Festival. Pasting New Year Prints The custom of pasting New Year Prints originated from the tradition of placing Door Gods on the external doors of houses. With the creation of board carvings, New Year paintings cover a wide range of subjects. The most famous ones are Door Gods, Surplus Year after Year, Three Gods of Blessing, Salary and Longevity, An Abundant Harvest of Crops, Thriving Domestic Animals and Celebrating Spring. Four producing areas of New Year Print are Tɑohuɑwu of Suzhou, Yɑngliuqing of Tianjin, Wuqiɑng of Hebei and Weifang of Shangdong. Now the tradition of pasting New Year paintings is still kept in rural China, while it is seldom followed in cities. Having Dumplings
5. Spring Festival Prepared by Karen Food during this festival has its characteristics, which is the representative of Chinese festival food culture. Dumplings and the reunion dinner are indispensable at this time. Cold and hot dishes are all served. Fish is always an important dish then, which expresses people’s hope of having a wealthy new year. The CCTV New Year's Gala The New Year’s Gala is a variety show held by China Central Television (CCTV) since 1983. For every year since then at the turn of the Lunar New Year, the program begins at 8:00PM and lasts five or six hours. It brings laughter to billions of people, creates many popular words and produces lots of TV phenomena meriting attention. For over twenty years, its value has gone far beyond a variety show. It is essential entertainment for the Chinese both at home and abroad. Many Chinese would like to watch the gala while having the dinner on New Year’s Eve Setting off Firecrackers The firecracker is a unique product in China. In ancient China, the sound of burning bamboo tubes was used to scare away wild animals and evil spirits. With the invention of the gunpowder, “firecracker” is also called “鞭炮 biānpào” (“炮” in Chinese means gun) and used to foster a joyful atmosphere. The first thing every Chinese household does is to set off firecrackers and fireworks, which are meant to bid farewell to the old year and usher in the new. In the past few years, such an activity was completely or partially forbidden in big cities including Beijing due to fire and personal casualty caused by burning firecrackers. However, some Chinese thought that a Spring Festival without firecrackers was not lively enough and they burned firecrackers by stealth. So in recent years, the ban was canceled again. This shows that burning firecrackers is a very important activity during the Spring Festival.
6. Spring Festival Prepared by Karen New Year's Visit and Gift Money On the first day of the Chinese lunar year, everybody puts on their best clothes and pays ceremonial calls on their relatives and friends, wishing them all the luck in the coming year. Juniors will greet seniors, wishing them health and longevity, while seniors will give juniors some gift money as a wish for their safety in the coming year. When friends meet, they will wish each other happiness and prosperity with a big smile. With the development of the new technology, there is a change on the way of giving New Years greetings. In recent year, it is common to send New Years greetings by such modern means of communication as telephones, emails and text messages. Festival Greetings Traditional Festival Greetings: 恭贺新禧 | Happy New Year 吉祥如意 | Everything Goes Well 恭喜发财 | Wishing You Prosperity 年年有余 | Surplus Year after Year 岁岁平安 | Peace All Year Round 新春大吉 | Good Luck in the New Year Taboos The Spring Festival is a new start for a new year, so it is regarded as the omen of a new year. People have many taboos during this period. Many bad words related to
7. Spring Festival Prepared by Karen “death”, "broken”, "killing”, "ghost” and “illness” or “sickness” are forbidden during conversations. In some places, there are more specific details. They consider it unlucky if the barrel of rice is empty, because they think they will have nothing to eat in the next year. Taking medicine is forbidden on this day, otherwise, people will have sick for the whole year and take medicine constantly. Allow me to congratulate you on the arrival of the New Year and to extend to you all my best wishes for your perfect health and lasting prosperity.
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