By Jessica Wu ’20
A brand new year means new beginnings, changes, and hopes. We bid farewell to the past and look forward to the New Year. In China, the spring festival is the official new year. People usually get together to celebrate, and this is among the warmest moments of the year for many, because it provides time off to spend with family. There are lots of preparations, foods, and cultural customs that are part of the spring festival.
Since the festival is so revered, Chinese people will start to plan and decorate about a month in advance. Spring cleaning is very relevant during this time, as everything from the interiors of homes, outdoor landscapes, and clothing is cleansed to usher in the New Year.
Red is the symbolic color of the spring festival; it represents good luck in Chinese. Thus, almost all of the decorations are red. “Fu” is also used as decoration, and the term means blessings and happiness in Chinese. People usually paste “Fu” on their windows and doors. Generally, homes are filled with red to welcome this time of year.
Food is an essential element of the spring festivals, but it varies, because China is a vast land of several different customs and cultures between the North and the South.
In Northern China, dumplings are the most representative food during the celebration. The Chinese also associates a meaning with dumplings–that of good fortune. Usually, families will gather together and make the dumplings right at home. The elders teach the children how to make these savory delicacies, passing the tradition between generations. The whole process is one of love and cultural pride.
On the other side of China, the Southern Chinese people will consume numerous different foods for the festivities, instead of focusing on a singular one. Fish, lobster, and noodles are favorites in the South.
Playing customary songs is a typical way to liven any environment, firecrackers are regularly set off at parties, and people watch fireworks. Fireworks are actually the most common practice of the spring festivals, because ancient people believed that the spluttering sound could drive away evil spirits. Driving away of evil spirits, once again, adds to general theme of good fortune and starting the year off right.
While in the United States, we are well into 2018, Chinese New Year is officially on February 16. Hopefully, you can impress someone with your increased knowledge of the holiday and its season.