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chinese new year

► SPRING FESTIVAL OR CHINESE NEW YEAR

By far the most important festival or National Holiday to the Chinese is the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year as it is also called. It is a time for families to come together and as such could probably be most related to Christmas in the West.

In a country with so many migrant workers and with the country being such a huge place it means there are a lot of people travelling back to their homes from across China, in fact it makes for the largest human migration seen anywhere and at anytime in human history. This migration increases in size year after year as more and more people find themselves living and working in cities that aren’t their hometowns and I will always remember the staggering decrease in the population of Beijing when Spring Festival comes around.

Chinese New Year dates back to the Shang Dynasty

The festival itself vastly predates Christmas, it being in the region of 4,000 years old. It originated in the Shang Dynasty around the 17th to 11th Century BC. It is based on the Chinese lunar calendar and therefore falls at a different date in the western calendar every year some time in January or February. In traditional custom it begins on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month and runs until the 15th day of the first lunar month which is signified by the Lantern Festival. The New Year’s Eve and Day are by far the most important dates in the whole festival. If you happen to be on China tours during this time then you will want to take in one of the temple fairs that occur during this time. Masses flock to these events held in major parks and there’s singing dancing and much of that favourite New Year tradition - eating.

On the New Year’s Eve families get together and feast - with dinner likely to go on for most of the evening with many a toast to health, wealth and happiness for the coming year being made with local alcohol. Once everyone can’t possibly fit another mouthful in the Mah Jong set will come out and the gambling commences!

Nearing midnight people will take to the streets to let off firecrackers to such an extent that in a city like Beijing the sound will be deafening. In the early hours of the morning it is time to make the “jiaozi” dumplings together and the next round of eating will soon begin!

Article posted by Phil Stanley: 18th November 2013

 
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