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Cultural Icons o f Spring Festival


Text by Zi Mo

As the most traditional festival of the Chinese nation that has been passed down for millennia, Spring Festival has developed various cultural icons with distinctive tones and auspicious symbolism, such as New Year pictures, paper-cuttings for window decoration, Spring Festival couplets, firecrackers, dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve, and red envelopes of lucky money for children. These cultural icons are at the heart of the festivities.

Paper-Cuttings for Window Decoration

In the past, residents across the country decorated their windows with paper-cuttings during Spring Festival. Today, the tradition is most prevalent in rural areas of North China. Paper cuts involve diverse subject matter, of which the most popular are flowers, animals, and other symbols for luck and good wishes.

New Year Pictures

Before the arrival of Spring Festival, Chinese people, especially residents of rural areas, paste brightly-colored New Year pictures on doors and interior walls of their houses. Traditional New Year pictures are woodblock prints. Today, they have been largely replaced by mass-produced pictures in some areas. Nevertheless, traditional woodblock prints remain one of the most representative genres of folk art in China.

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