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Preparations for the New Year begin a couple of weeks before the big day. This is a fun time full of anticipation and joy as we get ready for the thrill and excitement of the celebrations. According to the traditions, this is the time to clean the house, prepare food for the feast and make banners and decorations special for the New Year. A clean house to welcome the New Year
Before the New Year comes, it is one of the Chinese New Year customs to clean the house from top to bottom to get rid off all the bad luck gathered in the previous year.
And after the New Year comes, you cannot sweep during the first days otherwise all the new luck will sweep away! So one of your Chinese New Year activities will be to… clean your room! Wouldn’t want all that accumulated bad luck for another year would you??!! Cleaning house also means settling all your unfinished business to start fresh for the new year: Pay off all your debts, resolve all quarrels with friends, catch up with homework!!!
Make some Banners and Decorations
Red banners with New Year messages of good luck decorate the main entrance of your house/room.
Red is a very lucky color and symbolizes vitality of life and happiness. You can make your own Chinese New Year decorations with bright red paper and markers or a brush if you prefer. Here are some instructions to make your own New Year Banners including the “Lucky Characters” stroke by stroke.
Preparing the Chinese New Year Banquet
On New Year’s Day, the families come together to celebrate and everything must be ready for this important fest. Food must be prepared ahead of time, as one of the popular Chinese New Year superstitions dictates that all knives must be put away. Using a knife during the first days of the New Year “cuts off” all the good luck for the coming year. The New Year’s feast takes many days to prepare. These are some of the traditional chinese new year foods served on New Year’s day and throughout the festivities:
* meat dumplings for good luck
* tangerines for good fortune
* apples for peace
* sweet rice cakes for more wealth every year
* fish for plenty
* veggies with long noodles for long life
* chicken for wealth
* mustard greens for a green year for farmers
* soup means everything better than last year
* oranges for money and wealth
* shrimp for abundance
Paying respects to the Ancestors
The New Year Celebrations can only begin after paying respect to the ancestors.
On New Year’s Eve, people will go to the temples and pray for good fortune for the new year.
They bring offerings of food and incense to please the spirits of the deceased so that they might bring good luck.
So now that all the preparations are done with, the long-awaited day arrives and the New Year’s festivities can begin!
Chinese New Year Preparation
Preparing for the Chinese New Year begins on personal and social front and can start months before the New Year. These preparations are made in the hope to usher the New Year in the best context possible. Most people try to settle their debts with friends before the New Year so that they can start the New Year debt free. However, this settling of debt often refers to debt between friends and do not include home or car loans with financial institutions. These are considered as investments. Many people will also check predictions of their luck in the New Year. The Chinese calendar has a 60 year cycle and each year is presided by a star. Everyone has a star that corresponds with the year of birth. This birth star may conflict with next year’s presiding star, 犯太岁 creating difficulties in work, business or personal life. To avoid or minimize the impact, rituals can be conducted at temples before the New Year. During the dates for these rituals, temples are often crowded with devotees.
Nearer to the New Year families start their spring cleaning to welcome the New Year. This is the period when new furniture or minor renovations will be undertaken. Chinese New Year decorations such as couplets, banners are used to create a festive atmosphere. A major activity before the New Year is the exchange of gifts. Most of the gift items have symbolic meanings or status symbols to demonstrate good will or to express good wishes. New Year gifts can be presented to family, friends and between companies. Popular items include New Year cakes, Niangao, 年糕 in auspicious shapes, Mandarin oranges, Bakkwa (BBQ meat), sweets, candies, chocolates and hampers.
New Year cards 贺年卡 are also sent to family members, friends and business contacts. A few weeks before the Chinese New Year, markets and fairs specializing in New Year goods can be found in most cities. These markets offer foodstuff, candies, New Year decorations, flowers, clothes, New Year CDs and almost everything required for the New Year. These items are bought as gifts, for home consumption or used to entertain visiting family members or guests. These New Year markets often end in the early hours of New Year’s day. Many people visit these markets after their reunion dinner and stay till after midnight to buy the items at huge discounts.