Everything You Need to Know about Chinese New Year

Posted by Fifi Yang on 25/01/2016 2:11 AM 1670

The Chinese New Year is nearly upon us. It's popularly known as Spring Festival, which is the biggest and the most significant holiday for Chinese people. It's a time for families to be together.

The Chinese zodiac follows a 12-year cycle with an animal representing each year. The year that you are born determines your animal sign. This New Year is a year of the Monkey, which is regarded as a good year for innovation and improvisation. Below are everything that you need to know about the Chinese New Year.

The Origin of Chinese New Year

The Chinese meaning of this festival is Guo Nian., nian is the Chinese word for Year, literally means passing the year. The origin of the Chinese New Year can be tracked back to a legend in ancient times. Long times ago, there was a ferocious beast named nian lived in the deep mountain. It will come to villages to hunt for living at the end of every year. It will attack and eat villagers, especially children. Villagers are very scared of him, but no one could fight against him. Until one way, villagers get an advice from a wise old man, Nian fears noises, fire and red color. So they decide to take revenge against the monster. They decorate their houses by pasting red papers on their gates and windows.

When Nian showed up, villagers set off firecrackers to make loud noises, Nian was surrounded by noise and everything red. The beast was so scared and roared, then ran back to the mountain in panic and never come back.

From then on, the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian is carried on from generation to generation. The term "Guo Nian", which may mean "Survive the Nian" becomes today "Celebrate the (New) Year" as the word "guo" in Chinese having both the meaning of "pass-over" and "observe". The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian should it have a chance to run loose is still around.

How Do Chinese People Celebrate Chinese New Year

Nowadays, some celebration customs accompany the Spring Festival still followed, such as decorating their houses with all things red, paper chains, firing firecrackers, and performing a lion/dragon dance. But some have been weakened.

By the time the New Year arrives, families have already spent several days preparing for the big event; cleaning the house, buying gifts, and cooking festive foods.

Here are some traditions to celebrate Chinese New Year:

1. Clean Your Home

clean houses

In preparing for the coming New Year, it is customary to give the house a thorough cleaning at this time of year will sweep away any bad luck that may have accumulated inside over the past year associated with the past year. Besides cleaning your houses, people will wash their cloths, bedclothes as well.

But please be noted that do not clean for the first few days of the New Year, since people consider it to sweep away your good luck this year, and make way for the new year.

2. Decoration in Red

spring couplets

Decorate your house in red. Red is considered the lucky color in Chinese culture. People will paste spring couplets on the gate, attach paper-cut on Windows and doors. Some families will post the pictures of the god of doors and wealth on front gate in order to ward off evil spirits, hoping to bring peace and good fortune.

3. Ancestor worship

The spirits of ancestors are invited to join in the family's celebrations too. Before family members sit down to a reunion dinner, it is customary for them to worship their ancestors with an offering of food, fruits, tea and flowers. The form of worship may differ according to an individual's religion. But in traditional Chinese homes, members pray before ancestral tablets, wishing their ancestors will bless them with good fortune, health.

4. Reunion Dinner

reunion dinner on New Year's eve

Reunion Dinner is also named as "Nian Ye Fan 年夜饭", which is the biggest event on the eve of the Lunar New Year. It seems to be less of a ceremony and more of a promise that the family will once again unite despite their work and studies outside. Fish is an essential dish in the evening meal, as 年年有鱼sounds like the same as 年年有余 in pronunciation. The Chinese phrase "年年有余" means "may there be surpluses every year".

5. Send Red Envelopes

During the reunion dinner, elder generation or those got married will distribute red envelopes to young generations, especially children. Even a new-born baby can get an envelope. from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is also common for adults or young couples to give red packets to children.

6. Setting off fireworkers

Every family would set off firecrackers before they start to enjoy the evening meal. It was considerd that "The more firecrackers, the more fortune and blessing". So the reunion dinner begins while the firecrackers were crackling and spluttering.

7. Dragon /Lion Dance

dragon dance

The dragon dance "舞龙" or lion dance "舞狮" is a kind of folk dance. It's a spectacular performance during Chinese New Year. People think dragon would help to wipe away bad fortune and bring something new and good.

More about Chinese dragon:

Chinese are said to be descended dragons. The Chinese dragon is a legendary creature in Chinese mythology. It's commonly represents auspicious sign, and is regarded as one of the most representative Chinese traditions. Dragon looks like a combination of many animals, such as deer, fish, turtles, etc.

8. Watch CCTV Spring Festival Gala

Watching Spring Festival Gala on CCTV New has become an indispensable part of the Lunar New Year celebrations, the show is holding on New Year's Eve with the theme of family reunion.

How to say Happy New Year in Chinese

新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè)

新年好 (xīn nián hǎo)

过年好 (guò nián hǎo)

Popular Chinese New Year Greetings

恭喜发财 (gōngxǐ fācái) Congratulations and prosperity.

大吉大利 (dàjí dàlì) Good Luck!

万事如意 (wànshì rúyì) All the best!

健康长寿 (jiànkāng chángshòu) Live long and prosper!

生意兴隆 (Shēngyì xīnglóng) Business flourishes

岁岁平安 (Suì suì píng'ān) Peace all year round

You will find more greeting phrases and sentences during Chinese New Year here.

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi has spent a great number of years learning French. With the understanding of the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students. Fifi enjoys drawing, reading, and sports. Learn Chinese online with Fifi Yang >>

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