The Chinese New Year is coming. Welcome the Year of the Sheep on February 18, 2013 in Qingdao, China. Find out more info on the Chinese calendar – how the years and months are counted, leap years, and the current year – here. Get more info on the Chinese New Year, aka Spring Festival, here.
Chinese New Year begins with Da Nian San Shi (big year 30, the night when all the fireworks are blasted off) and lasts until Lantern Fest on the 15th day of the first lunar month. The first full day is the actual New Year’s Day, called Chu Yi. Check out more info and photos below, including a video of an ear numbing display of fireworks in China.
Happy New Year – Xin Nian Kuai Le – 新年快乐 !!!
Firecrackers And Other Artillery
The firecrackers are most intense around midnight, right when everyone is getting ready to have the jiaozi (dumplings) made for the special occasion. Eating jiaozi is a must on the eve of Da Nian 30 – as are the massive firework pyrotechnics that sometimes stretch to dawn. The first and last evenings of Spring Festival are the heaviest fireworks nights.
Usually before people start to have the formal dinner on New Year’s Eve, they set off firecrackers for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Door Couplets (dui lian/对联)
These Spring Couplets are seen on doors, usually with black characters on red paper. The short benedictions wish those entering the door prosperity, good fortune, health, wealth, and more. Many older people still gather a crowd at an informal dui lian market to write the traditional couplets. Check out more info on these poetic Spring Festival Distiches.
Jiaozi, Sticky Rice And Special New Year’s Foods
Spring Festival is a time to eat with everyone you meet, from the feast of New Year’s Eve to the meals shared over the first few days of the year as people visit family and friends. The most important food of the festival is jiaozi. Many people put a few coins into some of the dumplings to represent good luck and fortune.
The tail end of the Spring Festival brings Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie/元宵节), which is celebrated with tang yuan, a sticky rice ball in a sweet broth, with fillings of peanut, sesame, red bean, and more.
Eating sweet tang yuan on the night of the first full moon of the lunar year is symbolic of happiness and peace.
There is a myth about why people hang red lanterns on Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie/元宵节). Long, long ago there were many horrible beasts in human society which did nothing but hurt people. People got together to kill these beasts but accidentally a holy bird got lost in human society and was killed by mistake.
The Emperor of Heaven was very angry and ordered a big fire to be set to punish people. But his seventh daughter was too kind to see people suffering because of her father’s rage, so she came up with the idea of having people hang red lanterns everywhere to recreate the atmosphere of fire. Thereafter, people started to celebrate this day with the hanging of red lanterns.
Eating sticky rice dumplings (tang yuan) is the most important custom of Lantern Festival. The Chinese people want everything to have a happy ending, so eating sweet tang yuan on the night of the first full moon of the lunar year is symbolic of happiness and peace.