Importance of Spring Festival in Chinese Culture
The Spring Festival or the Chinese New year is the most important traditional festival in China. The festival falls on different dates each year between January 21 and February 20. It starts with the New Moon on the first day of the New Year and ends on with the full moon 15 days later. It can be recorded that the Chinese started to celebrate New Year from about 2600 BC. Historically, the celebrations may be related to a beast known as Nian. It is celebrated in the form of family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The presence of ancestors is acknowledged on the eve of the New Year.
The Chinese New year is celebrated in areas with large population of ethnic Chinese. It is the longest and most important festivity in the lunar calendar. Parades, firecracker displays and fireworks, cultural festivals, dragon, lion and dances are the highlights of the holiday, which lasts for 15 days. It is a time people can finally relax with their families and enjoy life after their hectic schedules of life. It is a time full of fun, merry making and amusement.
The New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of their life. The preparation starts well in advance. People start buying presents, food and clothes. They light up their houses and decorate it with symbolic flowers and fruits. Colorful pictures were placed on the walls as a sign of good luck. The road wears a festive look and loud sound of firecrackers fills the midnight atmosphere. The Family gathers and stays up all night to say good-bye to the old year and welcome the new. parents prepare the family altar by lighting up the incense making offers to the ancestors and auspicious deities. After the ceremony, everone exchanges the New Year greetings and dine together at a round table symbolizing the family circle and family reunion.
Customs and traditions are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. The family begins to offer greetings to their relatives and neighbors. Throughout the New Year season, certain foods are served because they symbolize abundance and good fortune. Various delicacies are laid out for the occasion. It is customary to serve a fish at the end of the evening meal, symbolizing a wish for abundance. Sweets like cakes are also served with a hope of bringing sweetness in life. They observe the tradition of wearing red clothes, giving away lucky money to children and setting off the firecrackers. They mainly wear traditional clothes having mythological scenes designed on them. The entire celebration is carried out through the realm of culture and traditions.
Lantern festival marks the last day of the New Year. Traditionally it is a day for lovers and takes place under a full moon. On this day, decorative lanterns are hung on the local temples. It is designed with the images of birds, wild animals and mythological birds. It is observed with the tradition of bringing brightness for the coming year. These include music, dance, playing the Lantern Riddle game, trying to guess the answers to the mysterious riddles stuck on the lanterns.