Chinese New Year: Part I

Chinese New Year is just around the corner – exactly one month away to be exact! This year’s Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 16. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of posts to help introduce this great holiday.

We are fast approaching a fascinating time of year in China – Spring Festival, otherwise known as Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is the largest festival (holiday) on the Chinese calendar. Schools let out, businesses close, and everyone returns to their hometown to celebrate the festival with family.

The few weeks and even months leading up to Chinese New Year can be a busy time in China as Chinese see the festival as a time for everything to be “new”. New clothes are bought, houses are cleaned (this is akin to “spring cleaning” in America), haircuts are gotten, final exams are taken, and business deals are brought to a close – all before the new year.

As the festival draws closer, streets become full to overflowing with the color red, which is a symbol of good luck and fortune. Red lanterns, red banners, red signs, and other red trappings line the streets. Houses are decorated red as well. Red paper with blessings written on them outlines the thresholds of homes and come complete with a red emblem of the character 福,meaning “blessing”, posted on the centers of doors – all to invite blessings to visit their homes for the upcoming year.

I cannot overstate just how HUGE this festival is in the lives of Chinese people. Their year hinges on it, similar to how our year hinges on Christmas and New Year’s Day. It is a time for the people to reset, reflect on the previous year, and look with anticipation at the coming year to see what it has in store.

It’s not until the eve of the New Year finally arrives, however, that the real festivities begin…

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