December 23 of the Lunar Calendar (Little New Year)
    Custom: Worshiping the Kitchen God
    As the legend goes, there is a kitchen god in each house who is responsible
for the kitchen and oversees the conduct of the family. On this day, the kitchen
god returns to Heaven to report the conducts of the family to the Emperor of
Heaven. Therefore, worshipping the kitchen god aims to “please him.” People put
out some sweet and sticky foods, such as rice dumplings and malted sugar. In
this way, the lips of the kitchen god will stuck together, and he cannot report
any wrong doings of the family. Thus the family can lead an auspicious life.
    December 24 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Dusting
    After worshipping the kitchen god, people begin to thoroughly clean their
houses to sweep away bad luck and welcome good luck. Dusting shows the good wish
of putting away old things and welcoming a new life, making everything look
fresh in the new year.
    December 25 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Pasting Window Paper and Making Tofu
    The times for pasting window paper are gone. Nowadays, the tradition is
replaced by cleaning windows. Tofu is homophonic with “Toufu (first fortune of
the year)”, so it is considered as a good food which brings happiness. In order
to prepare it for the Spring Festival, people should begin to grind beans and
make tofu today.
    December 26 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Preparation of Meat and Shopping for the Spring Festival
    When there was insufficient food in the past, the majority of ordinary
people could enjoy a comparatively lavish feast only during the Spring Festival
can be started on the day. Besides meat and fish, people also purchase
cigarettes, wines, fruits, gifts and festive ornaments.
    December 27 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Bating and Going to the Market
    According to the traditional folk customs of the Han ethnic group, people
should take a bath and do their washings to get rid of bad luck from the past
year and welcome the new year. Besides the purpose of purchasing goods, people
also go shopping to enjoy the exciting atmosphere of the Spring Festival in
    December 28 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Leaving Dough and Pasting Spring Couplets
    Besides meat and side dishes, people also prepare cooked wheaten food for
the Spring Festival. People in north China mainly eat noodles. They leaven
dough, steam buns or cook noodles during the Spring Festival. Today, people also
paste spring couplets and pictures. With concise texts and festive patterns,
people show their welcome for the Spring Festival. In addition, these activities
indicate that the Spring Festival begins.
    December 29 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Paying Tribute to Ancestors
    Preparation for the Spring Festival should be completed today, the day
before New Year’s Eve. Worshipping ancestors is also a major event on this day,
by which people express their gratitude and yearning for their ancestors during
the important festival.
    December 30 of the Lunar Calendar
    December 30 of lunar calendar, also called “Chuxi” (New Year’s Eve), is the
last day of the year according to lunar calendar. It means saying goodbye to the
last year and welcoming the new year. Chuxi is to Chinese people what Christmas
Eve is to Westerners. And it’s also the climax of the whole Spring Festival.
There are many customs in every period of time on this special day and those
customs have been wellobserved for thousands of years.
    Preparing for the Reunion Dinner
    In the morning, every family begins killing chicken and fishes as well as
cutting meat and vegetables to prepare for the Reunion Dinner.
    Praying to Ancestors
    Although different regions have different custom, many will pray to their
ancestors before the dinner on this day. All the family members hosed by their
patriarch offer incense and kowtow to the memorial tablets or the pictures of
their ancestors, then they burn paper money and pray one by one. They also
present the main dishes of the Reunion Dinner including pork as offerings to
their respect to the ancestors.
    Enjoying the Reunion Dinner & Giving Lucky Money
    The two wonderful meals at this day are called “Reunion Dinners”, among
which the New Year’s Eve Dinner is much more important.
    There are abundant dishes for the New Year’s Eve Dinner. The dishes are of
a wide variety and they all imply the meaning of good luck. Fore example, “fish”
shares a similar pronunciation with “Yu” which stands for “abundance”; beetroot
sounds like “Cai Tou” that means one can have good luck in the new year.
Besides, there are chicken, duck, fish, pork and beef in the dinner, which
symbolize a rich new year. While is Sichuan, every family has home-made sausage
and cured meat as well as Chinese liquor.
    During dinner time, Chinese people do not just eat and drink although the
food and drinks are very delicious. They also say some “best wishes” such as “I
wish you good health and a long life”, “may all go well with you”, etc. to the
elders, and then hope to get lucky money from those happy elders. It is said
that the lucky money can drive out evil spirits because it shares the same
pronunciation with “Sui” in Chinese (meaning evil spirits), thus children who
get lucky money will be safe in the new year. Surely, receiving lucky money is
the favorite “event” of every child during the Spring Festival.
    Watching Spring Festival Gala
    Shown during the Chinese New Year’s Eve, the Spring Festival Gala is a
large variety show produced by China Central Television. Although it has been
criticized for many times because of its outdated contents and forms, the Gala
is still an important program for Chinese families to sit together, enjoy family
love and share happiness in the Spring Festival.
    Offering Incense and Praying
    Near the midnight, the sound of the Gala has been already covered by the
thunder of fireworks outside. At the moment, all the family members go to toll
New Year bells and offer incense at 24:00 in a nearby temple. Every year, large
temples in different regions hold grand Spring Ritual for Blessings on New
Year’s Eve. People put their palms together devoutly and pray for a wonderful
new year at the crowded temple. Such activity will last to the end of the first
day of the year.
    January 1 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: New-Year Visits and Collecting Fortune
    Visiting relatives is still considered a major event on the first day of
the first Lunar month. Also, it is the birthday of “broom”, so it is taboo to
use broom or take out trash, otherwise, you might sweep away good fortunes and
suffer financial losses.
    January 2 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Married Daughters Return to Parents’ Home
    Married daughters visit their parents with their husbands on this day, so
this day is also called “welcome son-in-law day”. The couple must bring some
gifts and red envelopes along with them, and give them to children from the
wife’s side of the family. They have to return husband’s family before
    January 3 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Staying at Home
    According to custom, people should not pay visits to others on the third
day of the first lunar month as it is very likely to quarrel with others on this
day. However, this has already become obsolete. It is a rare opportunity for
people to get reunited during the Spring Festival, so less and less people
follow this tradition.
    January 4 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Worshiping the God of Wealth
    It is the day for worshipping the God of Wealth. In the past, if an
employee was not invited to worship the God of Wealth with the boss, he/she had
to resign according to the unwritten rule.
    January 5 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Breaking Five
    It is the day to “drive away five ghosts of poverty” (Poverty in
intelligence, knowledge, literacy, fate, and friendship). People light
firecrackers in the morning form inside to outside of their houses to scare away
all the “ghosts”.
    January 6 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Opening for Business
    After lighting firecrackers, shops reopen for business on this day. It is
said that boys of the age of 12 are the most welcomed as the number of “12” us
double “6”, which means “everything will go well smoothly”.
    January 15 of the Lunar Calendar
    Custom: Dumplings and Lighting Sky LanternsAs the first full moon night in
the new year, the fifteenth day is also called
    Lantern Festival, named after the long-time tradition of appreciating
lanterns. One should not miss Yuanxiao, glutinous rice dumplings, often stuffed
with white sugar, rose petals, sesames and so on. The stuffing and round shape
symbolize sweet life and reunion. Lantern Festival draws the curtain of the
entire Chinese New Year celebration.
    Chinese Spring Festival, also called Lunar New Year, has more than 4,000
years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the
grandest and the most important festival for Chinese people. It is also the time
for the whole families to get together, which is similar with Christmas Day to
the westerners. Originating during the Shang Dynasty (about 17th - 11th century
BC), Spring Festival, which celebrates family reunion, is full of rich and
colorful activities, and hopes with the advent of spring and flowers blossoming.
People from different regions and different ethnic groups celebrate it in their
unique ways.
    Festival Time 节日时长
    It comes on the first day of Chinese lunar calendar and lasts for almost
half of a month. But in folk custom, this traditional holiday lasts from the
23rd day of the twelfth month to the 15th day of the first month (Lantern
Festival) in the lunar calendar. Among these days, the New Year’s Eve and the
first day of the New Year is the peak time. The exact days are different in
every year according to the lunar calendar.
    Festival Time 节日时长
    It comes on the first day of Chinese lunar calendar and lasts for almost
half of a month. But in folk custom, this traditional holiday lasts from the
23rd day of the twelfth month to the 15th day of the first month (Lantern
Festival) in the lunar calendar. Among these days, the New Year’s Eve and the
first day of the New Year is the peak time. The exact days are different in
every year according to the lunar calendar.
    Legends 春节传说
    There are many legends about Spring Festival in Chinese culture. In folk
culture, it is also called “guonian” (meaning “passing a year”). It is said that
the “nian” (year) was a strong monster which was fierce and cruel and ate one
kind of animal including human being a day. Human beings were scared about it
and had to hide on the evening when the “nian” came out. Later, people found
that “nian” was very scared about the red color and fireworks. So after that,
people use red color and fireworks or firecrackers to drive away “nian”. As a
result, the custom of using red color and setting off fireworks remains.
    Spring Festival is the most important holiday for Chinese people.
Excitement and happiness are palpable this time of the year, and they reach the
peak on lunar new year‘s eve.
    Though the 15-day period, which starts with the first day of the lunar new
year and ends on the 15th day (known as Lantern Festival), is relatively long,
it is the busiest time of the year for Chinese people. The arrangements they
have to make for family reunions, buying necessities and preparing food keeps
them busy throughout the holiday. Many of them travel back home and meet friends
over dinner and drinks. The celebrations include decorating the house and
setting off fireworks.
    But we are talking about a tradition that seems to be fading.
    Spring Festival, as it is celebrated today, has undergone many changes,
thanks to the country‘s economic development and globalization.
    Yet no Spring Festival is complete without food. People could not get good
food whenever they desired in earlier times, something that does not apply to
society today. More often than not, people faced the risk of famine. The best
time for people to celebrate was when food was available in plenty, and that was
possible in spring, or the beginning of the lunar new year. That was the main
reason why Spring Festival acquired such great importance among Chinese
    But three decades of economic growth has ensured that people in China,
except for those who are still poor, can enjoy a good meal whenever they want.
Such has been the change in people‘s fortune that some have to be treated for
obbesity and other health problems associated with excessive eating.
    In the past, celebrations were limited to events like song-and-dance duets
in North China, dragon/lion dances in South China and fireworks, which required
the joint efforts of the entire community. But economic development and
urbanization seems to have weakened the social links among people. Many,
especially those living in cities, are not interested in celebrating the
festival with people they hardly know.
    Many customs associated with Spring Festival have changed, too. In the
past, people used to visit relatives and friends with gifts and lots of good
wishes. Today, many people, especially the youth, use their cell phones or the
Internet to send their good wishes and even "gifts" to their relatives and
friends. Some may say this a sign that people have become less caring about
their near and dear ones, but we should see this development as a time- and
energy-saving exercise granted by the information age.
    In recent times, many people have started praying for a career promotion or
more money instead of invoking God or the Buddha for a healthy and long life and
the welfare of their family. But the number of such people is decreasing now,
which shows that people are becoming more reasonable.
    春节习俗英文简介Customs of the Spring Festival
    The Spring Festival is a traditional Chinese festival and also the most
important one of the whole year. Through the evolvement of thousands of years, a
series of customs are spreading far and wide.
    扫尘 Sweeping the Dust
    “Dust” is homophonic with "chen”(尘)in Chinese, which means old and past. In
this way, "sweeping the dust” before the Spring Festival means a thorough
cleaning of houses to sweep away bad luck in the past year. This custom shows a
good wish of putting away old things to welcome a new life. In a word, just
before the Spring Festival comes, every household will give a thorough cleaning
to bid farewell to the old year and usher in the new.
    贴春联 Pasting Spring Couplets
    “The Spring Couplet”, also called "couplet” and "a pair of antithetical
phrases”, is a special form of literature in China. The Spring Couplet is
composed of two antithetical sentences on both sides of the door and a
horizontal scroll bearing an inscription, usually an auspicious phrase, above
the gate. The sentence pasting on the right side of the door is called the first
line of the couplet and the one on the left the second line. On the eve of the
Spring Festival, every household will paste on doors a spring couplet written on
red paper to give a happy and prosperous atmosphere of the Festival. In the
past, the Chinese usually wrote their own spring couplet with a brush or asked
others to do for them, while nowadays, it is common for people to buy the
printed spring couplet in the market.
    贴窗花和“福”字 Pasting Paper-cuts and "Up-sided Fu”
    Paper-cuts, usually with auspicious patterns, give a happy and prosperous
atmosphere of the Festival and express the good wishes of Chinese people looking
forward to a good life. In addition to pasting paper-cuts on windows, it is
common for Chinese to paste the character "fu(福)”, big and small, on walls,
doors and doorposts around the houses. "Fu(福)” shows people’s yearning toward a
good life. Some people even invert the character "fu(福)” to signify that
blessing has arrived because "inverted” is a homonym for "arrive” in Chinese.
Now many kinds of paper-cuts and "fu(福)” can be seen in the market before the
    守岁 Staying Up Late on New Year‘s Eve
    The tradition of staying up late to see New Year in originated from an
interesting folk tale. In ancient China there lived a monster named Year, who
was very ferocious. Year always went out from its burrow on New Year’s Eve to
devour people. Therefore, on every New Year’s Eve, every household would have
supper together. After dinner, no one dared go to sleep and all the family
members would sit together, chatting and emboldening each other. Gradually the
habit of staying up late on New Year’s Eve is formed. Thus in China,
"celebrating the Spring Festival” is also called "passing over the year (guo
nian)”。 However, now there are less and less people in cities who will stay up
late to see New Year in.
    贴年画 Pasting New Year Prints
    The custom of pasting New Year Prints originated from the tradition of
placing Door Gods on the external doors of houses. With the creation of board
carvings, New Year paintings cover a wide range of subjects. The most famous
ones are Door Gods, Surplus Year after Year, Three Gods of Blessing, Salary and
Longevity, An Abundant Harvest of Crops, Thriving Domestic Animals and
Celebrating Spring. Four producing areas of New Year Print are Tɑohuɑwu of
Suzhou, Yɑngliuqing of Tianjin, Wuqiɑng of Hebei and Weifang of Shangdong. Now
the tradition of pasting New Year paintings is still kept in rural China, while
it is seldom followed in cities.
    吃饺子 Having Jiaozi
    On New Year’s Eve, the whole family will sit together to make jiaozi and
celebrate the Spring Festival. The shape of jiaozi is like gold ingot from
ancient China. So people eat them and wish for money and treasure. The tradition
of having jiaozi is very important during the Spring Festival. You cannot have a
complete Spring Festival without having jiaozi. (See page 82 for more
information about "jiaozi”)
    看春节联欢晚会 The CCTV New Year‘s Gala
    The New Year’s Gala is a variety show held by China Central Television
(CCTV) since 1983. For every year since then at the turn of the Lunar New Year,
the program begins at 8:00PM and lasts five or six hours. It brings laughter to
billions of people, creates many popular words and produces lots of TV phenomena
meriting attention. For over twenty years, its value has gone far beyond a
variety show. It is essential entertainment for the Chinese both at home and
abroad. Many Chinese would like to watch the gala while having the dinner on New
Year’s Eve.