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Festivals
Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is known as "Spring Festival," , since the spring season in Chinese calendar starts with lichun, the first solar term in a Chinese calendar year. It marks the end of the winter season, analogous to the Western Carnival. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. Chinese New Year's Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as Chúxī (除夕) or "Eve of the Passing Year." Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year".

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, Vietnam, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity".

On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

 

First day

The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. It is a traditional practice to light fireworks, burn bamboo sticks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the days before. On this day, it is considered bad luck to use the broom. People also abstain from killing animals.

Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time to honor one's elders and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Some families may invite a lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Chinese New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash known as lai see or angpow, a form of blessings and to suppress the aging and challenges associated with the coming year, to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers. Business managers also give bonuses through red packets to employees for good luck, smooth-sailing, good health and wealth.

 

Second day

Incense is burned at the graves of ancestors as part of the offering and prayer ritual.The second day of the Chinese New Year, known as kāinián (开年, "beginning of the year"), was when married daughters visited their birth parents, relatives and close friends.

Business people of the Cantonese dialect group will hold a 'Hoi Nin' prayer to start their business on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year so they will be blessed with good luck and prosperity in their business for the year.

Some believe that the second day is also the birthday of all dogs and remember them with special treats.

 

Third day

The third day is known as Chìkǒu (赤口), directly translated as "red mouth" means "the God of Blazing Wrath". Rural villagers continue with the tradition of offering prayers beside open burning rubbish dump, whereby waste and rubbish are incinerated together with offerings. It is generally accepted that it is not a good day to socialize or visit your relatives and friends.  This is also considered a propitious day to visit the temple of the God of Wealth and have one's future told.

 

Fourth day

In those communities that celebrate Chinese New Year for only two or three days, the fourth day is when corporate "spring dinners" kick off and business returns to normal.

 

Fifth day

This day is the God of Wealth's birthday. In northern Mainland China, people eat jiǎozi or dumplings on the morning of fifth day. In Taiwan, businesses traditionally re-open on the next day (the sixth day), accompanied by firecrackers.

It is also common in China that on the 5th day people will shoot off firecrackers in the attempt to get Guan Yu's attention, thus ensuring his favor and good fortune for the new year.

 

Seventh day

The seventh day, traditionally known as Rénrì (人日, the common man's birthday),  the day when everyone grows one year older. In some overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Singapore, it is also the day when tossed raw fish salad, yusheng, is eaten for continued wealth and prosperity.

For many Chinese Buddhists, this is another day to avoid meat, the seventh day commemorating the birth of Sakra, lord of the devas in Buddhist cosmology who is analogous to the Jade Emperor. Chinese New Year's celebrations, on the eighth day, in the Metro Vancouver suburb of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

 

Eighth day

Another family dinner is held to celebrate the eve of the birth of the Jade Emperor. However, everybody should be back to work by the eighth day. All government agencies and business will stop celebrating by the eighth day. Store owners will host a lunch/dinner with their employees, thanking their employees for the work they have done for the whole year.

 

Ninth day

The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven in the Daoist Pantheon.  The ninth day is traditionally the birthday of the Jade Emperor. This day, called Ti Kong Dan (天公誕), is especially important to Hokkiens.

Incense, tea, fruit, vegetarian food or roast pig, and gold paper is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honored person.

 

Tenth day

The Jade Emperor's party is also celebrated on this day.

 

Thirteenth day

On the 13th day people will eat pure vegetarian food to clean out their stomach due to consuming too much food over the last two weeks.

This day is dedicated to the General Guan Yu, also known as the Chinese God of War. Guan Yu was born in the Han dynasty and is considered the greatest general in Chinese history. He represents loyalty, strength, truth, and justice. According to history, he was tricked by the enemy and was beheaded.

Almost every organization and business in China will pray to Guan Yu on this day. Before his life ended, Guan Yu had won over one hundred battles and that is a goal that all businesses in China want to accomplish. In a way, people look at him as the God of Wealth or the God of Success.

 

Fifteenth day

The fifteenth day of the new year is celebrated as Yuanxiao Festival. Rice dumplings tangyuan, a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, are eaten this day. Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. This day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival, and families walk the street carrying lighted lanterns.

This day often marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.