Chinese New Year -- New Years Eve
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Chinese New Year -- Red envelope
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Chinese New Year -- New Years Eve


 The entire New Year observation starts with New Year's Eve, called Chu Xi. For believers, they go to a temple to pray for their ancestors as well as their own health and fortune for the coming year.

Houses are cleaned and decorated with red paper cuts called Window Flower (chuan hua). Many people gets a haircut too. A Chinese banquet with foods of special meaning are prepared for the Eve. Often ten courses are served as "ten" stands for perfection (Shi Quan Shi Mei). The fact that family members gather for this special feast is believed to bring good fortune and togetherness for the coming year. Fish are served whole to represent completeness and plenteousness (Nian Nian You Yu). The noodle symbolizes longevity. Year-cake (Nian Gao) is eaten, either savoury or sweet, for the meaning of growing every year. By midnight, fireworks light up the sky to scare away the monster and welcome the New Year.


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.

Spring Couplets, a Chinese New Year decoration, are an integral part of China's New Year. Their beginnings go back as far as the origins of New Year's festivities.

According to legends in the China's ancient past there was a monster known as Nian who often came down from the mountains to eat livestock and locals. It was discovered that he was afraid of the color red and so red paper was placed around doors and windows of houses and poems for good luck were added to them. The houses with the red paper were avoided by the monster, so its inhabitants were spared. The tradition has continued until today.

 Couplets are traditionally painted with black ink on two pieces of red paper which is then hung on either side of a door.


One half is hung on either side. There is an extra piece of paper painted with words of prosperity hung above the door frame. Traditionally the couplets are poems consisting of two lines of either four or five characters. They are painted from top to bottom, right to left.


Different couplets have different themes. For farmers the couplets are meant to bring bounty to them, whereas businessmen's couplets are meant to bring money. Traditionally scholars would paint couplets and give them to their friends, relatives, and the public. Many people choose to create their own couplets. Many times Door God or the Character "Fu"is added to doors along with the couplets.


Pasting New Year Prints


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", big and small, on walls, doors and doorposts around the houses. "Fu" shows people's yearning toward a good life. Some people even invert the character "fu"to signify that blessing has arrived because"inverted" is a homonym for "arrive in Chinese. Now many kinds of paper-cuts and "fu"can be seen in the market before the Festival.


Set off firecrackers


The firecracker is a unique product in China. In ancient China, the sound of burning bamboo tubes was used to scare away wild animals and evil spirits. With the invention of the gunpowder, "firecracker" is also called "bianpao" ("pao" in Chinese means gun) and used to foster a joyful atmosphere. The first thing every Chinese household does is to set off firecrackers and fireworks, which are meant to bid farewell to the old year and usher in the new. In the past few years, such an activity was completely or partially forbidden in big cities including Beijing due to fire and personal casualty caused by burning firecrackers. However, some Chinese thought that a Spring Festival without firecrackers was not lively enough and they burned firecrackers by stealth. So in recent years, the ban was canceled again. This shows that burning firecrackers is a very important activity during the Spring Festival.


Sweeping the dust


"Dust"is homophonic with"chen"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.  


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