6 things you need to know about Chinese New Year 2018

Year of Dog (2018)

With Chinese New Year on 16th February, all of us in the office are getting really excited. Each year in the Chinese Zodiac is associated with an animal. This year will be the year of the Dog. It is traditionally celebrated for 16 days, from the Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival, which is on 2nd March this year. In China, celebration, custom and traditions are very different.

Cleaning the house and putting up New Year Decorations

From the 23rd of the lunar month, Chinese people carry out a thorough cleaning of their houses representing a wish to sweep away the old, and the bad and to prepare a farewell to the past year and welcome in the New Year. People also put up New Year decorations such as red lanterns, red couplets (paired greeting phrases written on red paper with black ink), and New Year paintings.

Chinese New Year Dinner

On the Chinese New Year’s Eve, families will usually gather to have a meal as a wrap up for the past year and celebrate a fruitful harvest of the coming year. The North of China usually celebrates with a hot pot and Chinese dumplings in the shape of a sycee, which symbolizes the wishes for wealth.  While South of the Yangtze River, they usually have nian gao (sticky rice cake) and tangyuan (sticky rice ball dessert) for wealth and family reunion in the new year respectively. In Hong Kong, people from walled villages will also have pun choi (basin cuisine) with Cantonese cuisines of pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, abalone, dried mushroom, squid, shrimp, bean curd and Chinese white radish. All the people from the walled villages will usually gather to have a pun choi on Chinese New Year.

Giving and/ receiving a Red Pocket

During the Chinese New Year, married Chinese or elderly people give red envelopes to children or unmarried singletons as a way to send good wishes, happiness and good luck in the New Year. The money inside the red envelope is called “lucky money”.

Lion dances and dragon dances

The Lion and Dragon dance is a traditional performance in Chinese Culture, which is believed to bring good luck to people and the community. The Chinese Dragon is a traditional symbol of power and dignity.

The head of the paper Lions and Dragons can weigh as much as 14.4kg and it takes many people in the team to perform and make the paper dragon move as if it is alive. To be successful in the dance, the performer who is in charge of the head of the dragon must be able to coordinate his movement in time with the drum.  It incorporates some skills combining the mentality of a team sport with the stagecraft and flair of a performing arts troupe. The Fire dragon dance, which takes place at night, is also performed during the Chinese New Year but only in a few villages in China.

Setting off Firecrackers or Fireworks

It is very common for rural Chinese people to light firecrackers which make a loud cracking sound on New Year’s Day. The story dates back to ancient times to scare away a mythical monster named Nian, who would appear every New Year’s Eve to eat people and livestock in the villages. Many families will also put up red couplets on their doors and wear red clothes to scare away the monster. The tradition has become important to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

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