China: Chinese New Year                                                    


The Chinese New Year is a large and important celebration that consists of various phases and events.


Phase 1: Preparation
Usually the preparation starts a month before the actual New Year and includes thoroughly cleaning and decorating the house, buying new clothes and preparing enough food to least two weeks. The decorations are highly symbolic with a lot of lucky words, printed paintings and red colored objects everywhere. During this period children often build up thei collection of firecrackers.


Phase 2: New Year' Eve
New Year's Eve is a time for families. The New Year Eve's dinner is the biggest dinner of the year. The dinner is full of symbolic meaning. The Chinese dumpling symbolizes wealth since they are in the shape of ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots. Everyone, even children, drinks a little jiu (usually hard liquor). Because jiu has the same pronunciation as the word longevity in Chinese, it also symbolizes longevity.


Phase 3: Firecrackers
Firecrackers were traditionally set off at the arrival of the New Year. Fireworks symbolize getting rid of the old and welcoming the new.


Phase 4: Red Packets
Giving hongbao or red packets during the Chinese New Year is another tradition. A “red packet” is simply a red envelope with money in it—which symbolizes luck and wealth. Red packets are typically handed out to children by their parents, relatives and close friends.

Phase 5: New Year Greetings
The Chinese New Year is a time for socializing. People usually wear new clothes and go out to visit and greet their relatives and friends, so the streets are filled with a lot of cheerful people. The greetings and visiting can go on for a few days.


Phase 6: Dragon and Lion Dancing
Dragon and Lion dancing are another tradition related to the Chinese New Year. The dragons, usually ranging from several meters to more than 100 meters in length, are mainly made of bamboo, wood, rattan, cloth and paper. There are poles attached to the belly of the dragon. During the performance, performers hold the poles and raise and lower the dragon to simulate movement. The grand dance starts with the beat of roaring drums.


Phase 7: Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival or Yuanxiao Festival is celebrated on the 15th of the first month of the Chinese New Year. It marks the end of the New Year celebrations. It is another time for a family to reunite. Yuanxiao is also a kind of cake, which looks like a small table tennis ball, made of sticky rice with a sweet filling. People eat yuanxiao during the Lantern Festival which symbolizes families sticking together.