Chinese spring festival is the lunarNew Year, the first day of the first lunarmonth, the most important Chinese holi-day. It is a festival season for family gath-ering and lasts for 15 days, ended as Lan-tern Festival, the 15th day of the first lunarmonth. In China, the fluctuating New Yearis the real start ofthe next year rather thanthe fixed January l. Chinese new year in2011 falls on February 3rd, the Year of theRabbit.
There are many customs for ChineseNew Year, in which people hope the newstart of a year will bring them good luckand prosperity for the whole year.
Why firework,lanterns and couplets?
Most people stay up late on the eveof the Chinese New Year, watching TV,enjoying snacks and chatting with theirfamily. Even if they don´t, they are wokenup by the loud bangs of firework at mid-night -- if the sporadic firework sessionsbefore 12 a.m. are not loud enough to stirthe sound sleepers.
As a legend goes, Chinese ancestorswere haunted by a monster named¨:年nian" (meaning year) that left its mountaindwelling for human communities amidfood shortages in winter to prey on menand cattle. In the long run, people foundout the monster was afraid of flames,bangs and red color. So they worked outfirecrackers and lanterns to scare it away.
No one in China nowadays still be-lieves such a monster actually existed, butthe legend and customs have survived.
Today, Chinese families still hang upred lanterns and put up red couplets withthymed phrases at their door, light fireworksand stay up late to watch the old year out.
Whyjiaozi and Niangao?
In northern China, Chinese dumpling(饺子 jiao zi) is an indispensable dish on theNew Year dinner table. It is an importanttradition on New Year´s Eve for families togather together and spend the evening pre-paring the dish. Experts say the snack wasalready popular in the Three Kingdomsperiod (220 - 280). Many Chinese believethat to eat dumplings at the turn of the yearwill bring good luck, because the foodresembles "宝 yuan bao", a boat-shapedgold ingot that served for many years in his-tory as China´s currency.