Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: zhēng yuè) in the Chinese calendar and ends with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day. Chinese New Year’s Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as chú xī ( 除夕 ). It literally means “Year-pass Eve”.
2011 is the Year of Rabbit.The Chinese Zodiac is based on a twelve year cycle, with each year being represented by an animal.
These 12 animals are: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.
Chinese New Year Traditions
- BEFORE NEW YEAR’S EVE
- The celebration begins on New Year’s Eve with the reunion dinner. Traditionally, in preparation for the New Year, families will:
- Clean the entire home and get rid of all the things that are associated with the old year.
- Put away all brooms and brushes.
- Pay all your debts and resolve differences with family members, friends, neighbors and business associates.
- Buy the following:
- - red money envelopes
- - oranges and/or tangerines
- - flowers (especially plum blossom, peach blossom, water lily)
- - a new set of clothes and shoes for children, preferably something red or orange.
- Insert new dollar bills into the red envelopes to make “lucky money envelopes”.
- ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
- Get together with close family members (not including married daughters and their families) for the “reunion” dinner.
- Pay respect to ancestors and household gods.
- Open every door and window in your home at midnight to let go of the old year.
- ON NEW YEAR’s DAY
- Decorate your home with symbols of good fortune (such as things with red, orange, or gold colors, fresh flowers, red banners with New Year wishes, and symbols of good fortune).
- DO’s & DON’Ts on NEW YEAR’s DAY
- Greet others with “Gung Hey Fat Choy” which means “Wishing You Prosperity and Wealth”.
- Give two lee see’s to each child. Because happiness comes in two’s, do not just give one. This is your way of passing good luck to the next generation. Business owners also give lee see’s to employees and associates.
- Wear brand new clothes – preferably in red. Children should wear new clothes and new shoes.
- Don’t wash your hair.
- Don’t sweep the floor.
- Don’t greet people who are in mourning.
- Don’t drop your chopsticks.
- Don’t say the number ‘four’ (Chinese homonym for death) or mention death.
- Don’t borrow or lend money.