New Year in China is completely different and unique from any of the New Year celebrations made in any part of the world. In China, New Year is also called as ‘Gung Hay Fat Choy’ or ‘The Spring Festival’. It is marked as the most important festival of Chinese culture and tradition. The day of New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar.
History of New Year in China
The New Year celebrations in China hold an entire history of its own. Once, there used to live a giant beast with the name of Nian, who used to swallow many human beings with a single bite. The natives under the distraught then find one weak spot in the beast. They came to know that beast gets afraid of the red color and loud noises. Since then, they started burning firecrackers and using red color in order to keep the giant beast scared. Since they got themselves liberated from the giant beast’s scare and conferred themselves with a new life, they started celebrating the day as GuNian (Pass over the Nian) or New Year day.
The Date of New Year in China
In China, there is no one fixed day of the New Year, and thus the date changes every year. It is celebrated in accordance to the Chinese calendar, which is a blend of the solar and lunar calendar. According to the Chinese calendar, the day of the second moon after the winter solstice is meant to be celebrated as New Year. Though, New Year celebrations are made for an extended period of around one month, which officially starts from second half of the last month of the previous year and ends with the first half of the first month of the New Year. Last day of Chinese New Year is celebrated as Lantern Festival.
New Year Celebrations in China – Customs and Traditions
In the present day life, one hardly gets an entire month long period to celebrate it. In Taiwan, the first five days of New Year are conferred as holiday, while Mainland China and Singapore have two to three days of holidays. It is only during that time, that one can precisely sense the New Year mood, enthusiasm, and celebration in China. Chinese people consider New Year as a mark to forget all the past troubles, and move ahead with an optimistic attitude.
People buy themselves new clothes (preferably red), get a haircut, and clean and decorate their houses with red colored banners with written auspicious couplets over them. Doing so is considered to bring good luck for the New Year. All past financial dues are preferred to be cleared with the beginning of New Year. Also, red envelopes with some money inside it are given as presents to young children, unmarried adults, and parents. Traditionally, the money should be an amount of an even number (excluding number ‘4’ in any form), and the money should be in new bills. Also, fireworks are planned and made on the New Year day, with a belief that doing so sways away all evil spirits and energies. Lighting up of houses with fancy lights, and decorating it with symbols of peace, prosperity, and luck is also a common tradition followed in concord with New Year celebrations.