As one of the most important traditional festivals in China, the Spring Festival is cause for great celebration. To have an authentic Chinese experience, there are eight essential things to do during the festival season.
1.New Year's Eve dinner
On each Spring Festival eve, the most important thing is to have a big family dinner. Northern Chinese people traditionally eat "Jiaozi" or dumplings, while Southern Chinese usually eat rice. Spring Festival is a time for all family members to head home for a family reunion, which lends itself to the meal's common name of "Tuanyuan Fan" or a "family reunion dinner".Sicily
A netizen recalled his memory of New Year Eve dinner like this
Eight things to do in Chinese Spring Festival, New Year
"As I recall, my family always had New Year's Eve dinner at my aunt's home. We began to prepare for the dinner from midday, and all the dishes would be ready by 6 pm. At that time, most of dishes were meagre as we didn't have too much money to buy meat. The adults talked about their childhood stories and laughed. We just ate and ate. Then by the midnight, we would go back to our own home to wait for the coming of the new year. The New Year's Eve dinner is so precious for us not just because we can eat lots of yummy food, but because of the people who have the dinner with us."
2. Set off firecrackers
The tradition of setting off firecrackers on the first day of New Year has a history of more than 2000 years. In Chinese, the Spring Festival is also called "Nian", after the name of a terrible beast in Chinese folklore. Every year at this time, it came down from the mountain to the villages to eat people and animals. In the past, people burnt bamboo to generate huge noises to drive "Nian" away, and this tradition has evolved to the use of firecrackers.
In recent years, many Chinese cities banned firecrackers as a public safety measure. But most Chinese people are utterly obsessed with the tradition, and so the bans have been gradually lifted.
3£®New Year Couplets
During the Ten Kingdoms period, Emperor Mengchang of the state of Later Shu decided that a particularly beautiful spring merited some special recognition, so he ordered a couplet to be written and inscribed at either side of the palace door.
But none of the courtiers could produce a text worthy of such a beautiful spring, so Emperor Mengchang penned one himself. And thus began the custom of writing door couplets for the New Year.
It is said that early couplets were written on peach-wood planks, as these were thought to ward off menacing spirits. The planks were dubbed "peach charms" or "Taofu", a name that is still sometimes used even for the paper couplets.
4.Spring Festival Gala
Television entered the homes of the nation in 1983, and the following year CCTV (China Central Television) produced its first evening party for broadcast on the eve of Spring Festival. From then on, watching the Spring Festival gala during New Year's Eve dinner has become commonplace for most Chinese people. In fact, statistics shows that the viewership rate for the gala has reached 93 percent.
5.Send New Year's Greetings
New Year's day is marked by people leaving their homes to send greetings to their relatives or friends. The common greetings include "Treasures fill the home!" "Business flourishes!" "Peace all year round!" and "Wishing you prosperity!".
Nowadays, many young people have turned to modern gadgets such as telephones, mobile phone text messages and the Internet to express their season's greetings.
These mass gatherings integrate religious worship, entertainment and commerce, and are one of the most important activities of the Spring Festival period. Beijing boasts more than 10 "temple fairs" each year, so called because they are held at various ancient temples in the city.
The concept has a long-running history, developing alongside Buddhist and Taoist activities and peaking in popularity during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) as well as the Republic of China (1912-1949). Major temples all have their own festivals, which feature all kinds of Chinese folk art, performances and booths demonstrating and selling traditional arts and crafts. The fairs have lots of games to play, food to eat, and above all, lots of people. You can taste numerous kinds of local snacks, court food and other dishes.
7.Spring Festival Homecoming
Spring Festival is a time for family reunion. Every year around this time the population moves en masse to get to their home town by any means possible, be it by train, plane, bus or any manner of vehicle.
Here is a typical story about the experience.
"In 1980s, I worked in a different city from my hometown. Every year this time, I must go home to spend the festival with my family. After ten years, I got married in the city where I work and now I have my own home. But every three to four years, my hubby and I have to go back to each other's home for the festival. This way, the crowded homecoming journey has never vanished from my life. Now, my daughter has grown up and settled down in another city. So at this time every year, I begin to worry whether she will get a ticket home"
8.Sacrifice to the kitchen god
According to Chinese folklore, the kitchen god travels to heaven at the end of every year to report the earthly goings-on to the god of heaven. In the past, around December 23 or 24 on the lunar calendar people would prepare candy for the kitchen god to make sure he says nice things about them, but few people still carry on this custom.