Traditional Celebration Chinese New Year
Of all the traditional Chinese festivals, the New Year is the most elaborate, colorful, and important. This is a time for Chinese to congratulate each other and themselves on having passed through another year, a time to finish out the old, and to welcome in the New Year. Common expressions heard at this time are: GUONIAN to have made it through the old year, and BAINIAN to congratulate the New Year.
Turning Over a New Leaf
The Chinese New year is celebrated on the first day of the First Moon of the lunar calendar. The corresponding date in the solar calendar varies from as early as January 21st to as late as February 19th. Chinese New Year, as the Western New Year, signified turning over a new leaf. Socially, it was a time for family reunions, and for visiting friends and relatives. This holiday, more than any other Chinese holiday, stressed the importance of family acquaintance. The Chinese New Year's Eve dinner gathering was among the most important family occasions of the year.
Sweeping of the Grounds
Preparations for the Chinese New Year in old China started well in advance of the New Year's Day. The 20th of the 12th month is set aside for the annual house cleaning, the "sweeping of the grounds". Every corner of the house must be swept and cleaned in preparation for the New Year. Spring Couplets, written in black ink on large vertical scrolls of red paper, were put on the walls or on the sides of the gate-ways. These couplets, short poems written in Classical Chinese, were expressions of good wishes for the family in the coming year. In addition, symbolic flowers and fruits were used to decorate the house, and colorful New Year pictures (NIAN HUA) were placed on the walls.
After the house is cleaned it was time to bid farewell to the Kitchen God, or Zaowang. In traditional China, the Kitchen God was regarded as the guardian of the family hearth. He was identified as the...