- Holidays and Celebrations
Chinese New Year photos and stories
Chinese New Year of the Horse!
Chinese New Year is upon us, and we are slithering from the Year of the Snake into the Year of the Horse!
The new year festivities begin at least a week ahead of time, with lots of traveling to offer New Years wishes ahead of time. The point of the New Year holiday is to be home with family. If you are not home, you would feel very sad, like not being home at Christmas only worse.
Celebration rises to a height on New Year's Eve beginning in the morning with fireworks, which continue on and off through the day, and rise to quite a crescendo again at dinner time when the whole family has gathered. Things quiet down a little during dinner and afterwards when families sit around the television to watch one of the many New Year's Eve programs. If you liked the Olympics Opening Ceremony, you will like these too. They can be viewed live on the computer, and watched later as well.
And at Midnight? The whole world explodes, with crackers of all sorts, huge high flyers, and magnificent illuminated "flowers." But watch out! As you will see, your balcony is not a safe place at midnight, even in big cities where the firecracker scene is not so crazy as the country. But no matter where you are, it will not be silent...
Have a good look at Chinese New Year customs - you might want to try some!
Chinese New Year of the Horse - This one wishes you success in the Year of the Horse!
Happy New Year in Chinese
What should I eat for New Year's?
There's lots of great stuff here in Beijing!
There are many customary things people eat in China when it is the New Year. But on New Year's Eve, you will find families all over the northern area of China preparing Jiaozi (pronounced G -ow - dzuh). They are a lot like ravioli, and perhaps you may have had the chance to eat them in a Chinese restaurant? That is what our family will eat, along with a food that is eaten in both North and South, which is Spring Rolls. This is the reason they are called "Spring" rolls - they are made to welcome the spring! The celebration here is not welcoming in a new calendar year so much as it is welcoming in the official beginning of Spring.
Every place has its own special food, which is not eaten in other parts of the country. In the Nanjing area, not too far from Shanghai, we were often offered a special dish of either eight or eighteen types of vegetables. Why 8 or 18? Because in Chinese, the pronunciation of the word "8" sounds a lot like the word for "getting rich." And 18 sounds like the words for "will get rich!" Everyone is making a wish that they will have good luck and plenty of money and things to eat in the New Year.
Before we eat our dumplings, we always have some candied "haws" on a stick. They are like crab apples, but come from the hawthorn tree. This year, we will be having one of our own creations... some dragon biscuits, which are not a Chinese custom! See how to make them at:the Dragon Biscuits instructions page.
In the north you can't have New Year without Dumplings! - It's like cookies at Christmas...Click thumbnail to view full-size
Temple Fairs are a lot of fun for everyone
Everywhere is crowded during the New Year holiday
These photos are mostly from the Dong Yue Temple in Beijing, where they have an annual Temple Fair that is wonderfully traditional. If you are ever in Beijing for the New Year this is the place to see. The feel is remotely like a country fair in the US.
Temple Fair photos - Where to go for old fashioned funClick thumbnail to view full-size
No matter what year it is, you will always see these things
Like holly and ivy, twinkle lights and christmas trees
There are many sights you will see every year, no matter which animal year it happens to be. The first sight of the New Year is fireworks. A LOT OF THEM!
Fireworks announce the arrival of Spring!
But I also ended up almost getting blown up! Our balcony was right at the level where the fireworks exploded, and when someone set some off right below our balcony, well... it was exciting! See what it is like from the middle of the action near Shanghai's Century Park. Don't worry. It was okay in the end - just exciting in the middle!
The sights of Chinese New Year - If the words are in the way of the photo, "x" them out and use the arrows to move along.Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Kitchen God reports to heaven and comes back again for the New Year
Chinese families in the countryside often keep the custom of having a Kitchen God print hanging in their kitchen. During the Spring Festival (New Year's holiday), five days before the New Year, they will take the print out and burn it to send the god on his way to Heaven to make his report. But before he goes, they will give him food, often sticky sweets, so he will only say good things about the family in his report, or possibly so that the sweets will actually stick his mouth shut, and he won't be able to say anything at all. The family will buy a new version of the Kitchen God print to paste in their kitchen at a local Temple Fair, and put it up during the first week of the New Year. Want more information? Look for "kitchen god" in hubpages to find more photos.