The Spring Festival
The first day of the first lunar month is the New Year in the Chinese lunar calendar. Among the traditional Chinese festivals, this is the most important and the most bustling. Since it occurs at the end of winter and the beginning of spring, people also call it the Spring Festival.
Chinese have many traditional customs relating to the Spring Festival since the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, people start to prepare for the event. Every family will undertake thorough cleaning, do their Spring Festival shopping, create paper-cuts for window decoration, put up New Year pictures, write Spring Festival couplets, make New Year cakes, and also prepare all kinds of food to bid farewell to the old and usher in the new.
New Year’s Eve is the time for a happy reunion of all family members, when they sit around the table to have a sumptuous New Year’s Eve dinner, talking and laughing until daybreak, which is called “staying up to see the year out”, When the bell tolls midnight on New Year’s Eve, people eat dumplings. In ancient times, midnight was called zishi (a period of the day from 11pm to 1 am ). Dumplings ( jiaozi) are eaten because it sounds the same as “change of the year and the day” in Chinese.
From the first day of the lunar year, people pay New Year calls on relatives and friends, which is an important custom for the Spring Festival. Setting off firecrackers is the favourite activity of children in the Spring Festival. According to legend, this could drive off evil spirits. The continuous sound of firecrackers can be heard everywhere, adding to the atmosphere of rejoicing and festivity.
Many places hold temple fairs. The wonderful dragon lantern dance and the lion dance performances, along with various handicraft articles and local snacks attract thousands of people.
With the development of the times, some changes have taken place in the customs of spending the Spring Festival. For example, to prevent environmental pollution, many cities have banned firecrackers. But this does not have an impact on the happy atmosphere of the festival. On New Year’s Eve, family members get together to have dinner while watching TV programs.
For Chinese at home and abroad, the Spring Festival is always the most important festival.