Among all the ancient civilizations that have bequeathed knowledge to the world, China, with its unique culture and traditions, is the only one that remains standing. Its language and calligraphy date back to the year 600.
China is the prime example of how a country can grow and gain importance by respecting traditions.
Read on to discover some millennial Chinese New Year traditions.
放鞭炮 fàng biān pào: Lighting firecrackers
The Chinese believe that the sound of firecrackers can scare away evil spirits. They are also an exciting way to announce the arrival of the new year.
Firecrackers have been a very important tradition in the past and are still one of the most important New Year traditions in the countryside. In the cities, for safety reasons, they are almost totally forbidden, however.
Before, when smartphones were not yet an integral part of our daily life, some people had invented a thousand ways to play with firecrackers to have fun between big and small.
大扫除 dà sǎo chú: The big cleanup
It should not be forgotten that the key word of the Chinese New Year is “辞旧迎新,” which means “Saying goodbye to the past to better welcome the present.”.
To properly start anew, it is essential to clean out all the bad traces of the past. Examine every corner of your house, even the cracks in the door, the bottom of the sofa, … everything!
It all has to be clean before the big day. If you haven’t cleaned the house yet, do it now, before it’s too late!
贴春联 tiē chūn lián: Glue the parallel inscriptions together
About 3,000 years ago, for the Spring Festival, two peach wood boards were traditionally hung on each side of the main door, with the names of the door deities written on them.
The peach wood amulets had the power to ward off evil spirits (bìxié 辟邪). Later, during the Song dynasty (960–1279), the tablets were replaced by two strips of red paper calligraphed with parallel phrases (chunlian 春联).
挂红灯笼 (hang red lanterns)，贴福字 (paste Fu character)，贴门神 (paste protective deities on doors); these are all types of red decorations hung as a signs of good omens, good luck, and best wishes.
除夕守岁 chú xī shǒu suì: Reviewing the year on the last night of last year
除夕 literally means “eliminate night,” also called 大年三十 (the thirtieth day of the last month). Everything must be ready; all traces of the past year cleaned, ancestors’ graves visited, family meals well prepared.
On this night of reunion in the north, ravioli is eaten. As diverse as the dishes are around China, the main thing is that the family gathers to spend the last night of the year together to show gratitude for having spent another year safe and sound.
The annual CCTV 春晚 gala shown on this night was, for many years, the must-see program for Chinese people. There are all kinds of programs, including acrobatics, singing, dancing, and comedy.
In recent years, however, the quality of the gala has declined, and now the event is more like background noise for family chat.
大年初一拜年 dà nián chū yī bài nián: “Greeting the year” on the first day of the lunar new year
The first day of the new year is called 大年初. On this day, one should visit important relatives. Above all, one should wish the elders a happy new year.
Children should kneel down and bang their heads on the ground three times to show respect. They then offer their best wishes and receive New Year gifts given by grandparents.
The custom on this day is for workers to give money to those who do not work. Therefore, it is a holiday for children and teenagers, so they can have pocket money for a whole year.
By Andreina Ibarra.
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