Chinese New Year is called Yaun Tan by the Chinese. It is celebrated on the second moon after the New Year.
In preparation people clean their houses. A week before the kitchen god (who watches over the family is sweets so that when he is burned and brought to heaven to report he will have only nice things to say. Sometimes people give him honey so he can't open his mouth!!!
The day before Chinese New Year or Yuan Tan people cook a big feast.
No sharp tools can be used on the Chinese New Year because people think it will "cut out" good luck.
On the night before the New Year people greet each other by saying "Kung-shi" or " I wish you joy" and then go to bed.
During the day people have fun doing outdoor activities such as watching fireworks, lion dancing, stilt walking, dragon lantern dances and boat rowing.
Chinese New Year starts at the first full moon of the month and ends on the full moon which is 15 days later. This last day is called the Lantern Festival. New Year’s Eve and Day are a time of family reunions and get together. That calls for feasting and fun!!
The feast may include lotus buds, ginko nuts, black moss seaweed, dried and bean curd, and bamboo shoots. There might also be fish, chicken, and noodles. In southern China people like to have nian gao, sweet steamed glutinous rice, and zong zi (glutinous rice that is wrapped in the leaves of reeds). But in northern China people like to eat steamed wheat bread which they call man tou and small meat dumplings on New Year’s.
People also decorate their homes with flowers, tangerines and oranges in bowls, and a tray of candy with eight different types of candy in it. They usually have live plants that bloom in their home because this symbolizes rebirth and new growth. If a plant should happen to bloom on New Year’s Day that means that the family will have a year of prosperity. The Chinese strongly believe that if there weren’t flowers there wouldn’t be any fruit. That is why so many people decorate their homes with flowers.
Many people have bowls of tangerines and/or oranges in their homes. Tangerines with leaves indicate that someone’s relationship with someone else is secure. For just married couples this means they are going to become a family and have children. Both oranges and tangerines are symbols of plentiful happiness.
The people may also have a bowl of candy in their house. If the candy is in the shape of a circle or octagon it is called “The Tray of Togetherness”. After taking a few pieces of candy from the tray adults put a red envelope (also called lai see) in the center of the tray. There are eight types of candy and they each have a different meaning:
• Candied melon represents growth as well as strong health
• Red melon seed signifies joy, happiness, sincerity, and truth
• Lychee nut symbolizes strong family relationships
• While the kumquat represents prosperity
• The coconut symbolizes togetherness
• Peanuts signifies long life
• Longnan represents many good sons
• Finally, lotus seed signifies many children
Animation By Lara
The 15 Days of the New Year Celebration
DAY 1: The welcoming of gods and ancestors into the home.
DAY 2: The Chinese pray to their ancestors and the gods. The second day of the New Year’s celebration is thought to be all dogs birthdays. Because of this people are extra kind to them.
DAYS 3 & 4: On this particular day sons-in-law pay respect to their parents-in-law
DAY 5: This day is called Poo Woo. On this day people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth. If families visit friends or relations it will bring them both bad luck.
DAYS 6-10: On these days people visit friends as well as family. Not only do they do this they also go to temple to pray to the gods for good fortune and wealth.
DAY 7: On this day farmers display their produce. The farmers make a drink with seven different vegetables in it!! This is to celebrate the New Year. The seventh day is also thought to be the birthday of mankind. Noodles and raw fish are eaten. They represent longevity and success.
DAY 8: The Fujian people have a family reunion supper. Then, at midnight the pray to Tian Gong (the God of Heaven).
DAY 9: People make offerings to the Jade God.
DAYS 10-12: People invite friends and relatives to dinner.
DAY 13: After the big dinner last night people have a simple dinner of rice congee and mustard greens (which is called choi sum by the Chinese).
DAY 14: Preparations for the Lantern Festival are made.
DAY 15: The Lantern Festivals is held.