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How Does China Celebrate a New Year? Print

    By lsaias 
    eHow Contributing Writer
     

    Basics

  1. The Chinese New Year is not a single night like the Western New Year, but rather an ongoing festival that lasts 15 days. It is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, which means that the date varies slightly from year to year. It always falls somewhere between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. A new moon marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year Festival, and it ends on the first full moon of the year.
  2. Symbolism

  3. The Chinese New Year is marked by complex interlocking symbols. There are, of course, the 12 well-known animal symbols in the Chinese Zodiac. Every year has an animal presiding over it. That animal is believed to affect the course of the year and to determine the destiny and personality of people born during that year.

    At the same time, there is a 10-year cycle of "Heavenly Stems" associated with the Chinese New Year. There are two years each marked by the five Chinese elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each year is also marked Yin or Yang, the two forces in balance in traditional Chinese philosophy. So, you have a Yang Fire year followed by a Yin Fire year, then a Yang Earth year and so on. The whole cycle repeats itself once every 60 years.
  4. Decorations and Demons

  5. Ensuring good fortune in the coming year is a big part of the Chinese New Year. People prepare for New Year's Eve by cleaning out their houses and decorating their house with things considered to be lucky. Certain flowers and fruits, posters or statues of lucky gods and the color red are considered auspicious.

    Wearing red is thought to scare away demons, as are loud noises. Firecrackers and dragon dances with drummers are extremely popular in the Chinese New Year Celebration, partly for this reason.
  6. Community Celebration

  7. The Chinese New Year is a time for giving gifts and celebrating with friends and family. In some parts of China, older relatives give red envelopes filled with money to younger relatives. Small gifts are also sometimes exchanged between friends. On the eve of the New Year, many Chinese gather with family for a reunion dinner where they discuss the past year and catch up. Certain days of the New Year are also used for visiting friends and relatives.
  8. Lantern Festival

  9. The 15th and last day of the Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival. It begins with a traditional dinner with family. As it gets dark, families walk through the street with beautiful, elaborate paper lanterns. Traditionally, most people used simple, red lanterns and only nobles could afford elaborate ones. Nowadays, however, elaborate ones with beautiful, animal motifs are common.

 

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