Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday in China. It is also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. As is with cultures and traditions all over the world, they vary from region to region, family to family across a country. Especially when we speak of huge countries such as China and India – cultures change as per the local dialect and geography.
Chinese New Year traditions you can follow anywhere in the world
If you live far from home and are not able to make it back in time to celebrate the New Year in China, do not fret. Here are some of the traditions you can follow from anywhere in the world.
1) Make rhyming couplets (duilian) and hang them. All you need is some red paper, black paint and a paint brush. Duilian are commonly seen in all Chinese homes – these are either hung on the outside or in the interiors. When written for the Chinese New Year they signify happiness and hope for the coming year. You can choose to write couplets that correspond well with the animal of that year. A number of poetries can be found online. Once done you can hang them and feel at home.
2) Make Dumplings (jiaozi) – what are any festivities without good food? Dumplings have become extremely popular all over the world and are sometimes known as momos in some places. If you are unable to make them from scratch, based on your location, you can order them from any take away restaurant. A traditional dumpling or jiaozi is of many different types: boiled or steamed dumplings are most often made and had at home. A jiaozi consists of a thin roll of dough filled with minced meat or finely chopped or ground vegetables.
The making of a dumpling can be done together as a family on the Chinese New Year day. Mixing the dough, rolling it into thin even sheets, placing the fillings and boiling them – is a fun and fulfilling task. Some families also place a coin in the dumplings and the one who finds it is lucky and would have a blessed year.
3) Buy new clothes for yourself and your loved ones: one of the Chinese New Year customs is to buy new clothes and accessories. Especially if you are away from celebrating the New Year, this small trip will bring back several memories and happiness for a better future. If this is your year of the birth zodiac sign, then it is a tradition to wear one piece of red on your body for the rest of the year. This helps to prevent any bad luck that may come with the year. Socks, belts and underwear are some of the common items that Chinese make use of to incorporate “the red” in their everyday wardrobe.
4) Home cleaning as a tradition
The people of China usher in the Chinese New Year by cleaning everything in the house from top to bottom. If you are a cleanliness freak, this could be the most fun activity on the list for you. A clean house is a symbol that the past is done with and a fresh new start is possible. Dust, cobwebs and all other clutter in your house is a sign of bad memories and things that hold you back. Sweeping, dusting and removing the old and unwanted things from your home brings in good Chi – or positive happy energy that helps you move ahead into the future.
China adopted the western calendar as late as the year 1912. Prior to this a Chinese calendar was in use for several centuries. Every year one sixth of the world’s population celebrates the Chinese New Year. That is over 1 billion people – making this the most important social and economic holiday for the Chinese. Apart from China the biggest celebration of the New Year takes place in the US – San Francisco being the main place. As per the Chinese Zodiac each year corresponds to one animal. There are a total of 12 animals – the rabbit and the dragon being the most important of all of them. Chinese are said to be the descendants of the dragons. The rabbit is important because of the Chinese Goddess that went on the moon and had a rabbit with her. It is also customary to settle debts and end disagreements before the beginning of the New Year. Some of these traditions may resonate with New Year resolutions taken up by the rest of the world. Red is the color of good luck and prosperity, whereas black is avoided as it symbolizes death. Red envelopes are also a major part of the Chinese New Year tradition. These envelopes contain money are given to family and friends as a custom to bring in good luck. It is also customary to eat long noodles on the Chinese New Year Day, just make sure not to cut the noodle while eating as it is considered a sign of bad luck.
Centuries old traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation are relevant even today as a reminder of what the ancestors have conquered for us to reach where we are today. Some of the unique and amazing traditions of the New Year make it so interesting for the world to know and join in on the celebration.