Traditional Chinese Spring Festival customs

Spring Festival, which falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month according to Chinese lunar calendar, is the most important festival in China and a time for family reunion, like Christmas in the West.

Traditionally, Spring Festival starts in the early days of the 12th month of the lunar calendar and lasts until the middle of the 1st lunar month of the following year. With the modernization of China, some traditional customs are still followed today, but others have fallen by the wayside.

Here are some customs that traditionally celebrate the Spring Festival.

 
 Chinese Culture

Little New Year, which falls the 23rd day of the 12th month in the Lunar calendar, is also known as the Festival of the Kitchen God, the deity who oversees the moral character of each household.People make sacrifices to the Kitchen Gold on this day.

 
 Chinese Culture

Families undertake thorough house cleaning on the 24th day of the 12th month in the Lunar calendar, sweeping out the old in preparation for the coming year.

 
 Chinese Culture

After people have cleaned the house and started preparing food, they begin decorating their homes creating an atmosphere of rejoicing and festivity on the 28th day of the 12th month in the Lunar Calendar. Decorations include spring couplets, New Year pictures, posters of door gods and paper-cuts.

 
 Chinese Culture

On the 29th day of the 12th lunar month people visit the graves of their ancestors to honor their memory. It is said Spring Festival originated in the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC-c. 1100 BC) from the people’s sacrifice to gods and ancestors at the end of an old year and the start of a new one.

 
 Chinese Culture

Chinese people are supposed to stay up the whole night on the 30th day of the 12th month in the Lunar Calendar.

In Chinese mythology, a monster called nian would come out to harm people on New Year’s Eve, so people get together, staying up and chatting, hoping for a peaceful passage of time. The custom of staying up symbolizes the warding off of all diseases and disasters and wishing good luck in the New Year.

Chinese people attach great importance to the Spring Festival Eve, when all family members eat dinner together.

 
 Chinese Culture

The first day of Chinese New Year, also known as the “day of chicken”, officially begins at midnight.

It is traditional to light firecrackers and make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil monster nian.

Most importantly the oldest and most senior members are visited with the visits strengthening family kinship.

Senior members of the family hand out red envelopes containing cash (Chinese: ya sui qian), a form of blessing and to suppress aging and the challenges of the coming year, to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers.

On the second day, married daughters usually go back to their own family to visit parents, relatives and close friends.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

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