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Lunar New Year Traditions: The Surprising Significance of the Chinese New Year Celebrations

Chinese New Year, also commonly called Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most celebrated festival in China. It is the celebration where people say goodbye to the previous year and usher in the goodies of the new one in China and other Asian countries. This year, it will be celebrated in February, raising the question, ‘Does the year begin in February?’ We’ll explore everything about this sacred celebration. 

Why Chinese New Year is celebrated

Tracing back to its origin, Chinese New Year signified an ancient battle with a terrifying beast, the Nian, that invaded every Lunar New Year’s Eve. The Chinese began celebrating their victory over this beast that ate people and animals.

Courtesy: Confucius Institute

Today, the celebration is now about the beginning of a new year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar and the arrival of the spring season. However, the ancient tradition of scaring the beast away with red items is still present in the prevalent red theme of the celebration.

When it is celebrated

The Chinese New Year’s Day doesn’t fall on the same day every year, but it always occurs between January 21st and February 20th. This year, it falls on Saturday, February 10.

Courtesy: Newsweek

Celebrations last for 16 days, from New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year’s Eve falls on February 9, and the Lantern Festival is on February 24 this year.

Honoring the dead

One major highlight of the Chinese New Year celebration is honoring the dead. Many people visit their ancestors’ graves the day before Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Courtesy: Quora

There, they let their ancestors eat first by offering sacrifices to them before the reunion dinner. Also, on New Year’s Eve, they place an extra glass at the dinner table to honor their dead.

A Family Reunion

Another important aspect of Chinese New Year is for families to get together. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, a reunion dinner happens in every Chinese home.

Courtesy: Chinese American Family

For this grand dinner, several generations of a family sit around round tables and spend time together as they eat. People travel home to join their families; eating dinner anywhere but home is unheard of on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Standing on the original traditions

While the Chinese New Year’s is now celebrated as the arrival of spring, it still involves some ancient traditions. Red lanterns are hung in streets, and red envelopes with money inside are given to children.

Courtesy: Al Jazeera

People thoroughly clean their houses before Chinese New Year’s Eve to sweep away bad luck. It is believed that sweeping your house and washing your clothes or hair on New Year’s means sweeping your good luck away.

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