Hi!!!! It’s Monday, which means only 4 days until I leave for Chinese New Year break.(The acutal New year starts on the 8th) Now that I get to go to my grandparents house, Chinese New Year is my favorite holiday. So excited!!!!
Chinese New Year is arguably one of the most important holidays for Chinese people. Like all new years, it celebrates the start of the new year. However, unlike Western New years, it celebrates the start of the Chinese Lunar calendar and festivities last for 15 days. It’s a long holiday, so I’ll just cover the most important traditions
Family is central in Chinese culture, so not surprisingly, family reunions are a key part of Chinese New Year festivities. Chinese families will typically gather at their ancestral home towns and these gatherings can get HUGE!!!! Also, now that China is urbanized, a lot of traveling is involved. In 2015, an estimated 3bn trips were made.
This tradition is probably every child’s favorite. At the reunion, children recieve red envelopes filled with money from relatives. These packet can range from a few dollars to hundreds, but are always even. These are said to bring wealth and luck in the New Year.
Go to any Chinese village during New Years and chances are, it will sound more like a warzone than a celebration. The Chinese love their firecrackers. Traditionally, they were said to scare away evil spirits, but today, it’s more for show. When I went last year, my uncle bought over ten kilos worth of firecrackers and fireworks. It was AWESOME. Unfortunately, they are banned in many cities.
Food, like family, is central to Chinese culture. On New years Eve, the most common way to celebrate is with a banquet. The entire day of the banquet will typically be spent cooking and all the best food put forward. However, in recent years, more and more families are taking celebrations to restaurants. While the exact foods vary from family to family, there are some significant food traditions:
In the past, most Chinese families were too poor to afford meat on a regular basis. When they did, chances are it was on Chinese New Year. Now that meat is commonplace, the tradition continues, only, with more meat
The Chinese word for fish is a homonym to the word for surplus. Thus, preparing a whole fish has become a tradition. When eating the new years fish, it is customary to leave the head and the tail. This symbolizes having a surplus from the beginning to the end
Niangao- glutinous rice cake
Nian gao means sticky cake, but it is a homophone for high year. Thus, it is eaten on new years day to welcome a prosperous year
Buddha’s delight refers to a black, flosslike alge. It is a homophone for getting rich… no need for explanation there
I hope that was helpful and interesting. I leave on Friday and unfortunately there is no internet at my grandparent’s place. Don’t worry, I’ll post updates when I get back. Be prepared for some amazing food. Happy New Year!!!!!