The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar. Also known as the Chinese Spring Festival, it is one of the most important among Chinese festivals. Since it is based on the lunar calendar, the start of the festival can vary from year to year. It can be anytime from the last week in January to the first two weeks in February. The celebration lasts two weeks and there are a lot of festivities and exciting activities that one can expect. There are quite a few things that one can do during this time.
The Chinese believe strongly in the principles of Feng Shui and according to astrological predictions, this is the Year of the Horse. The general belief is that people will experience good fortune and prosperity if they do a few things before the start of the season – to herald in the New Year.
Things to do:
The Chinese go to temples and pray for good luck in the New Year – incense sticks are burned at the altar and some even have their fortunes read. People clean their homes well in advance of the New Year – the belief is that cleaning up before the year starts will sweep bad luck out – de cluttering is always good. People generally dispense with cleaning duties during the period so as not to sweep out good luck.
Red is an auspicious color and is used in a lot of Chinese New Year Decorations including lanterns. The number 8 is also a lucky one and is used to attract wealth and good luck. People buy plaques and decorations with symbols for joy, prosperity, health and so on.
Flowers are used quite generously to decorate – lotuses, water lilies, chrysanthemums, peonies and so on are placed all over. Mandarin oranges are another favorite – especially with their leaves on. They are considered the fruits of happiness and even numbers are always used. Trays with candies of 8 types are also placed to ensure sweetness for the year.
Decorating the table with Chinese New Year Decorations and the traditional meal is something not to be missed out. There are quite a few foods that are eaten just at this time of the year – some choose not to eat meat on that day as each year is named for an animal. Traditional foods include chicken, fish, jai, noodles, ride and desserts. Dumplings are a specialty for this time of year.
It is also a good idea to dress for the occasion in traditional clothing. Chinese silk is famous around the world and there are quite a few beautiful colors and designs to choose from. Red is the color which indicates happiness, wealth, good luck and fortune – so it is recommended that people choose clothing in this color. Gold is another favorite and can be combined with red for elegance.
Ornaments used in Chinese New Year Decorations are lanterns, dragons, fish, the lion or any of the other Gods like Kuan Yin and Buddha. Plants like kumquat, chrysanthemum, bamboo and narcissus make for good gifts.
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