CHINESE New Year is the longest and the most important holiday in China and involves 15 days of celebration, starting from the first day in the lunar calendar, encompassing centuries-old customs and traditions. Each day has its own special events, which are keenly observed by many with Chinese ancestry.
Beginning at midnight, people welcome Gods of the Heaven and Earth. On this day, especially among Buddhists, people refrain from non-vegetarian food, which they believe will increase longevity. People do not cook on this day to keep away from any harm caused by knives and any other sharp objects. Most of them visit senior members of their family and exchange red envelopes containing money. Fireworks and firecrackers are common celebrations.
People pray to their ancestors as well as the gods to bring them good luck and prosperity in the coming year. Married women visit their own family houses on the second day, which is also considered as the birthday of all dogs. Many people leave food out for stray dogs on this day. Businessmen, especially those who speak Cantonese, conduct a prayer known as Hoi Nin for good luck in business for the forthcoming year.
Third and fourth days
These days are set aside for sons-in-law to pay respect to their in-laws. Some people also use this day to visit graves and pay respects to their ancestors. Home visits are discouraged during these two days as there are believed to be chances of arguments arising.
This day is called Pu Wu, the day in which people welcome the God of Wealth to stay in their homes. In many parts of mainland China, families gather for a breakfast of dumplings and let off light fireworks to welcome the God of Wealth on his birthday. The cacophony of fireworks and smoke reaches a crescendo at midnight on the fifth day as skies explode over China’s megacities. People in Taiwan traditionally re-open their businesses after their holiday on this day to bring good luck for the following year.
This day is set aside to visit the loved ones, relatives and friends, other than close family members.
People pray for their good luck and wellbeing on this day.
On this day people celebrate the birth of humans and mark their official birthday. They eat noodles to enhance longevity and raw fish to symbolise achievement. Some farmers still celebrate by making seven drinks out of seven vegetables to bring good luck.
This is traditionally the night of a family reunion dinner to celebrate the eve of the birthday of the Jade Emperor. And it’s also time for many people to start going back to work.
This is the birthday of the ruler of heaven, the Jade Emperor and the time to invite friends and relatives to dinner.
Eleventh and twelfth day
If people have the funds and stomach, feasting continues.
This is the day when people eat only pure vegetarian food to cleanse their system, particularly after the previous fortnight of banquets. It is also a day devoted to Guan Yu, the God of War. Businessmen often pray to this god to overcome difficulties.
This day is for preparation ahead of the next day’s Lantern Festival.
On this day people light candles in paper lanterns and walk through the streets to bring good fortune. They eat small sticky rice dumplings on this day, which marks the official end of all the celebrations for Chinese New Year.