Now, I will tell you something about the Spring Festival I know and grew up with, and how to celebrate Spring Festival in my family. The blog is a long one, please be patient~~^_^
•The origin of Spring Festival
It’s said that “Nian 年” was a horrific monster in ancient China. It always destroyed everything and even hurt people. People found out, that the monster was afraid of the red cloth people put on their doors, so it has become a tradition to have something red (Spring Festival couplets and Fu character 福) on the doors and walls. Nian is also afraid of fireworks and firecrackers, that’s why Chinese people love to make a lot of noise during the Spring Festival time.
•The importance of Spring Festival in China
Spring Festival is the most important festival during the whole year, almost everyone goes back home to celebrate Spring Festival with their family, even people who work in Hainan Province and their hometown is in Heilongjiang Province go back home (Hainan is in the southwest of China, Heilongjiang Province is in the northeast of China).
The traffic during the whole month is horrible, it’s difficult to get a ticket to go back home (because everyone wants to go back home), if you get a ticket, you are lucky, but if you take a train to somewhere, you will find sometimes you can’t get a place and you will have to stand on the train. We call it “Chun1yun4 春运”, it is a word we use to describe the passenger transport during the period of Spring Festival.
•Prepare for Spring Festival
-“La Yue” ”腊(la4)月(yue4)”
“La Yue” is the last month on Chinese lunar calendar in one year. When “La Yue” starts, Chinese people start to prepare everything for the Spring Festival.
The Spring Festival is only one day on a calendar, but for Chinese people, it isn’t only one day, it always refers to the whole Spring Festival period.
– Cleaning: Chinese people clean the house everywhere; wash all the window curtains, bed sheets and dirty clothes before Spring Festival.
– Buy enough food for the whole month: Including all kinds of meat, vegetables, fruits, snacks, nuts, sweets and “mantou 馒头” (Chinese bread). If you are in China now, you will find that the traffic jam is worse on the weekends than weekdays, there are so many people in supermarkets and shopping malls, you may believe everything is for free! (Because everyone buys a lot of stuff!)
– Wear new clothes: On Spring Festival, people wear new clothes, even underwear and socks are all new. As mentioned in the blog written by my charming colleague Sunny “people will wear red coloured underwear and socks as if the coming year would be their year. By the way, the next year is the year of the snake！”
When I was a child, I was always very happy to wear new clothes on Spring Festival, I would keep the new clothes my mother bought for me in winter to wear until the Spring Festival. But now, I don’t mind if I wear new clothes on Spring Festival, because I have grown up and I can buy new clothes anytime I want.
•Spring Festival Eve
There is a tradition that the family makes sacrifices to forefathers of the family during the period of the Spring Festival. It’s very solemn. Prepare a table with incense, candles, some dishes, fruits and cakes.
In my family, if we decide to make sacrifices, we will prepare it very carefully, because it displays the respect we have for our family ancestors.
-“Dinner on Spring Festival Eve”,”年(nian2)夜(ye4)饭(fan4)”
On the Spring Festival Eve, all family members get together cooking, making dumplings, watching TV (more than 99.99% families in China watch the Spring Festival Gala on CCTV). The dinner on Spring Festival Eve is the most important meal in one year for every family. Some families also put several coins (washed with boiling water) into dumplings, if you eat a dumpling with a coin, it means you will be lucky and will make more money in the new year!
My mom always prepares at least 10 dishes for the dinner every year, even though there are only us three(my parents and me) celebrating together on the eve. After dinner, we will eat dumplings at midnight. When the dumplings are cooked, we will set off firecrackers at the same moment.
Children are all very happy during the period of Spring Festival, because they can get red envelopes from older family members on Spring Festival, they all become “rich men”!
I got red envelopes from my parents, grandparents and some other elder family members every year until I graduated from college. I will give red envelopes to my nephews from this Spring Festival on…
•“Happy Spring Festival”,”拜(bai4)年(nian2)”
Say “Guo4 nian2 hao3”(it means happy Chinese new year) with fist and palm salute to people you know or you don’t know but you want to ask for help if you stay in China during the period of the Spring Festival, they will be very happy. People will visit each other to say “guo4 nian2 hao3” to wish each other good luck and make more money in the new year!
•“Going back to mother’s home”,”回(hui2)娘(niang2)家(jia1)”
It’s a tradition in China that the daughters who have married could not celebrate the Spring Festival with their own parents, they celebrate the Spring Festival with their husband’s family. So the second day (in some areas in China, it is the first day) after Spring Festival is the date for the daughters who have married to back home to celebrate with their own parents, also with husbands and kids, they always take a lot of gifts. And the parents of the daughters will entertain them as well. But now, because most of Chinese families have only one child, people don’t mind to celebrate with other families and friends.
Although my mom goes to visit my grandmother every two days, she prepares a lot of gifts for my grandmother on this day as well. My grandmother also gets up early in the morning to prepare the dinner for us.
•How Chinese people spend Spring Festival holiday
We get a 7-days holiday during the Spring Festival. Do you want to know how Chinese people spend their holidays? Most of families celebrate together at home and meet friends, some people go out to travel with families, normally, people in north China prefer to travel to some warm places, because the winter is cold, they want to enjoy the holiday with only wearing a T-shirt.
I meet some friends and go shopping during the holiday, because there’s a big discount after Spring Festival! I am always busy during the holiday, there are too many friends and relatives to meet, too many things I want to do.