FC: China's Spring Festival Becca Sherman
1: Spring Festival: A Time for Family.
2: In China, the Spring Festival is the most important celebration of the year. It is considered so important that the government declares it a seven-day public holiday. The Spring Festival is a time when families get together, similar to Christmas or Thanksgiving in America. Although the Chinese call it Spring Festival, most people know it as the Chinese New Year. This 15-day festival celebrates the end of the winter season. The New Year falls on different days each year, usually between January 21st and February 20th.
4: The Spring Festival is celebrated in many countries and territories around the world such as, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, Vietnam, and in Chinatowns across the globe.
5: Legends state that the beginning of Chinese New Year started with a battle against a mythical beast called Nian. The beast would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. | In an attempt to appease Nian’s hunger, people would place food outside their doors at the beginning of each year. According to legend, Nian was once scared away by a child wearing red. The villagers then became aware that the beast was terrified of the color red. This is why the color red is now associated with the holiday. It is also believed that firecrackers and loud noises would frighten Nian. It is said that a Taoist monk captured the beast and he was never seen again.
6: Similar to Christmas in the West, people spend large amounts of money to prepare for the spring festival. Stores are extremely busy as people buy decorations, clothes, gifts, oil, rice, flour, meats, fruits, candies, and nuts.
7: Right before the New Year comes, people clean their living spaces, outdoor spaces, clothing, and utensils. After their homes are clean, it is tradition to decorate all the door panels with Spring Festival couplets, showcasing Chinese calligraphy that expresses wishes for a bright future and good luck in the New Year. One of the most common symbols used in decorations is the Chinese character “fu,” which means blessing or happiness. Additionally, homeowners post pictures of the god of doors and wealth on their front doors in order to ward off evil spirits and welcome peace and abundance.
8: Although each of the fifteen days of the festival is important, Spring Festival Eve is considered one of the three most important days. On this day, all family members gather together for a feast. After the dinner, the family will sit together. Families stay up late and gather around the television to watch the Spring Festival party broadcast, similar to how Americans watch the ball drop or parades.
9: It is tradition to wake up on New Years day and dress up before greeting family members. After children greet their parents, they are given money wrapped up in red paper as a New Year gift. Different regions of the country each have special traditional breakfast dishes such as dumplings or cake.
10: Another custom associated with the Spring Festival is burning fireworks. Traditionally, it was thought that the loud noises would drive away evil spirits. However, the government has recently banned the practice due to noise and pollution. Instead of fireworks, people break balloons or play firecracker sounds.
11: It is important to note that China has 56 different ethnic groups. Minorities celebrate their Spring Festival on the same day as the Han people, and they have different customs. | During the Spring Festival, one can be sure that the lively atmosphere will be found in every household, street, or public area. During the other days of the Spring Festival, people participate in a series of activities including lion dancing, lantern festivals, and temple fairs. The Spring Festival comes to an end when the Lantern Festival is finished.
12: Image Sources: http://rightinfrontofme.wordpress.com/tag/pentax/ http://www.ankurb.info/2010/09/25/mooncakes-and-floating-lanterns/ http://astrocleansology.com/?page_id=1415 http://www.smashingtube.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Chinese_New+Year_traditions.jpg http://advertising.chinasmack.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/chinese-new-year-2011.jpg http://goway.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Chinese-New-Year.jpg http://jasonj05.deviantart.com/art/Nian-Closeup-101952288 http://www.student-support.co.uk/images/inline/chinese-red-envelopes.jpg
13: Information Sources: http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/Festivals/78322.htm http://www.theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/origin.htm Kong, Shiu L. Chinese Culture and Lore. HK: University of Toronto Press, 1989, p. 48 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2712567.stm http://www.chinese-lessons.com/cantonese/culture1NewYears.htm#gift