The Spring Festival is very long (usually almost a month). In preparation people must buy many things including firecrackers, clothes, shoes, hats, couplets (good luck sayings written on red paper), incense, sweets, meats, fruit (dried and fresh) as well as many other things. There is also plenty of other things to do such as preparing meat, making New Year's puddings as well as steamed buns. During the first few days of this festival nothing is cooked but dumplings!!!
The Laba Festival is held on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month. This is the prelude to the Spring Festival. Laba porridge is the main dish on this day it consists of at least eight ingredients!!! Some might be rice, beans, jujube, or nuts. People also pickle garlic and meat which is eaten during the Spring Festival.
AFTER THE LABA FESTIVAL
After the Laba Festival is held people start cleaning and decorating their homes. It is during the 12th lunar month that people believe gods go up to heaven or down to hell to report on the family's activities in the past year. People clean their houses during this time of year so the gods and/or spirits are offended. This way the house will also be clean for the Spring Festival.
Animation by Lara
2 MAJOR ACTIVITIES BEFORE THE SPRING FESTIVAL
People give offerings of tasty dishes to the Kitchen God (a household god) on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month so he will say good things about them when he goes to heaven to report. They greet the Jade Emperor on the 25th day of the 12th lunar year. The Jade Emperor is the head of all the gods who the Chinese worship. People believe that he come's to inspect the secular world on the 25th day of the 12th lunar month.
The Spring Festival came about because people, at the end of winter, when spring was coming they would gather and thank the gods for for nature, which included mountains, rivers, stars, the sun, and the moon. First, this celebration didn't have a particular day on which to be celebrated but eventually it was celebrated at the beginning of the old year and the end of the new.
THE COLOR RED
The color red is very special to the Chinese people. Not only does it represent good luck it is also supposed to ward away the monster, Nian, who destroys crops as well as homes.
Firecrackers were first set off in the belief that they scared away ghosts. Also, there is a legend that states there was a monster that would scare animals as well as people. It was found out that loud noises, the color red, and bright lights scared the monster. So at midnight on the last day of the old year these things are used to drive the monster away. They also represent the going of the old and the coming of the new.
The first meal of the New Year is very important. In Northern China people eat Jiaozi (dumplings in the shape of a crescent moon). Dumplings were first in China 1,600 years ago. Jiaozi means midnight or the end and beginning of time.
In Southern China people also eat Jiaozi as well as noodles, New Year's Cakes, and Tangtuan (a round, sweet dumpling).
People often visit each other during the Spring Festival. The recreational activities include The Dragon Dance, Lion Dance, stilt walking, and acrobatic shows. People also go to the many stands selling food to buy snacks.
NEW YEAR'S EVE
On New Year's Eve people eat, drink, entertain, and generally enjoy themselves. In the north people celebrate New Year's Eve by making Jiaozi. In the south people make niango (New Year's Cakes). During dinner everyone sits around the table. This is a sort of 'family reunion'. Fish must not be eaten during the New Year's Eve meal since it is considered good luck. It is put on the table for a decoration representing good luck and fortune.