Chinese New Year
The history of Chinese new year.
This traditional fest has been celebrated for more than four thousand years.
It came about from ancient celebrations to mark the end of the long winter season and the beginning of spring.
It celebrates the earth coming back to life and the beginning of the growing cycle.
This is why it is also called the Spring Festival.
For Chinese people all over, the Lunar New Year is the celebration of the year, a time for happy reunions, family and friends, rich in colorful traditions and customs.
The Chinese dragon dance
Every Chinese New Year Parade ends with a Dragon Dance. The parades start on New Year's Day and continue for the next fifteen days until the end of the festivities with the Lantern Festival.
The Dragon Parade is a highlight of the festivities. The Dragon represents wisdom, power, and wealth and a very important aspect of Chinese Culture. It is also said that the Dragon Dance performed on New Year's Day scares away the evil spirits and all the bad luck with them...
During the Dance, a dozen or so performers hold the dragon up on poles. They raise and lower the Dragon making him "dance" as they wind through the masses to the sounds of horns, drums and gongs.
Top 10 facts
- Before the start of the festivities, Chinese people spring clean their houses to sweep away any bad luck.
- On New Year's Eve, all brooms, dustpan and brushes are put away so that good luck can’t be swept away. Houses are decorated with paper scrolls with good luck phrases such as 'Happiness' and 'Wealth'.
- People will stay up until midnight setting off fireworks to frighten away evil spirits. Red symbolises fire which will scare away evil spirits, so people dress head to foot in new red clothing.
- Children receive red envelopes full of money instead of wrapped gifts that other nationalities give at Christmas. The amount they receive is usually an even number but the amount cannot be divisible by four. In Chinese, the number 4 means death!
- Everyone goes home for the Chinese New Year celebrations, if they can. The period just before the Chinese New Year, called ‘chunyun’, is the busiest travel time of the entire year. All across China and beyond, you’ll find people on their way home to spend this time with their families.
- Lion and dragon dances are common during the Chinese New Year and it is believed that the loud drumming and clashing of cymbals will chase away bad luck and evil spirits.
- Some Chinese believe you should not wash your hair on the first day of the Chinese New Year as you would be washing away your good luck for the New Year.
- To make sure you're not ridden with debt in the New Year, the Chinese believe that all outstanding bills and monies owed to friends and family members should be paid off before the Chinese New Year.
- The Chinese believe that crying and wailing on the first day of the Chinese New Year will result in sad times for the remainder of the year. It is also frowned upon to start the New Year by swearing, getting upset or getting angry.
- White or black clothing are often avoided during the festivities as they represent the traditional colours of mourning for Chinese.