Cantonese, Chinese Festivals, Cultural

Celebrating the Spring Festival

A few of our Chinese colleagues across our three offices in China are sharing how they usually spend the most important festival of the year.  🙂
ZhuhaiSunny Sui
The Spring Festival is approaching and all the people are starting their preparations for the most important festival. I grew up in the North of China and have only been living in Canton for just over 12 years. Although the Spring Festival has the same meaning for all Chinese, the customs are really different. Today, I am going to talk about the Cantonese’s customs for Chinese New Year. For Cantonese, the most important thing to do for Spring Festival is to stroll around at the flower markets. The flower markets open a week before Chinese New Year. During that time the long streets are full of flowers, and sometimes you can even find stadiums filled with them. People believe strolling around flower markets will bring them luck for the new year, for this reason they will also buy some flowers to decorate their houses. The most popular flowers are orchids, orange trees, solanum mammosum, peach blossom trees and narcissus. So, Cantonese are the most romantic Chinese!

InternChina – At the flower market

I went to the Chinese New Year flower market last Saturday and bought some orchids to decorate my home. For me, this is one of the most important activities for Spring Festival. I like flowers very much and I can’t wait to go to Guangzhou on Wednesday to see some of the biggest flower markets. Last Chinese New Year we spent the Spring Festival in Guangzhou with my family and my sister-in-law’s family. We had lots of dinners together, we went shopping and went for several trips around Guangzhou.

InternChina – Orchids

Qingdao Shona Shi
As tradition, my parents and I would celebrate the Chinese New Year with my grandparents and uncle’s family. In the morning of New Year’s Eve, we would start the busy day with breakfast together, we would usually eat steamed buns called 包子, bāozi. After that we would put the character 福, and the couplet on the front door, which represents our hope and wishes for the coming year. For lunch, we would usually have a variety of dishes with rice.

InternChina – Decoration shopping

In the afternoon, we would sweep the graves of our ancestors, and burn some fake money to express how much we miss them and “provide” them with money in their afterlife. This is also believed to be a way to invite them back home and celebrate the new year with us, although I do find this concept kind of scary! In the evening, we would have a feast and watch the spring festival gala together. The feast consists of seafood, meat, vegetables and most important dumplings. On the first day of new year, we would greet our relatives and friends and give them our best wishes.

ChengduKenny Qing
Nowadays there are more and more people from outside of Chengdu moving here to work or live, therefore making Chengdu really crowded. But during the Spring Festival the usual crowded transportation and streets will become deserted, you will find only a few people walking on the street as most of these people will go back to their home town and spend the Spring Festival with their family. For the locals, most of them will stay at home or visit their relatives or friends. I’m also a local and since I can remember, during this time my family will prepare lots of different kinds of food for Spring Festival such as sausages, spicy chicken, soup and several small snacks. When the day comes we invite all of our relatives to have lunch together.

InternChina - Sichuan Chinese sausage
InternChina – Sichuan Chinese sausage

After lunch, sometimes we will go to the temple to make a wish to the Buddha. We usual ask for good health for the family for the coming year, but others will also ask for wealth, which I think the Buddha will not agree with. After this, we will return home and my grandma will suggest to the other adults that they play mahjong together, which they will do for the rest of the day. As for the kids, we will all go outside to play and watch the fireworks. Over the years, I have found that the fireworks don’t interest me as much as before, for me I think that the most happy thing about this time is receiving the lucky money, 红包, hóngbāo, from the older relatives. Here, I have to mention one other thing, never believe your mum when she says that she will help you save it in the bank and give it to you later when you grow up!

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