2003, Chinese New Year is on 1 February.
It marks the first day in the Year of the Ram and Year 4699 by
the Chinese calendar.
hei fat choy is the traditional New Year greeting.
festival celebrates the earth coming back to life when ploughing
and sowing can begin, so food plays an important part.
plays an important part of the Spring Festival
of the food consumed for the festival has symbolic meaning.
example, the names of some foods sound similar to characters with
lucky connotations, while the shape or colour of other foods is
symbolic of things such as happiness, prosperity and good fortune.
example, kumquat plants, which are popular presents, have little
golden fruits and the Chinese pronunciation for kumquat sounds
the same as gold and gold is lucky.
though the climax of the Chinese New Year, Nian, lasts only two
or three days, preparations start almost a month before.
are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away any bad luck, debts are repaid,
hair cut and new clothes bought.
rice soup is considered
to be purifying the body for the new year ahead
and window frames are repainted, usually red, and then decorated
with paper scrolls.
this time of cold weather, warming foods are eaten like hot rice
soup containing nuts, dried lotus seeds, red beans and dried dates.
Eating rice soup is also considered to be purifying the body for
the new year ahead.
Kitchen Gods' Day, the 24th day of the month before, it is time
to appease the kitchen gods before they head up to heaven where
they report on the family's activities.
include burning images of the kitchen gods to symbolise their
departure - brushing honey or sugar on to their lips before burning
is meant to improve your chances of their saying sweet things
New Year's Eve houses are brightly lit and families gather together
for a large meal.
traditional food depends on whether you are from south China -
sticky-sweet glutinous rice pudding called nian gao - or the north
- steamed dumpling called jiaozi (or djiaozi).
people stay up all night celebrating and at midnight fireworks
and firecrackers are set off to frighten away evil spirits.
packets contain sweet surprises
the day itself, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red
Packet, takes place.
wake up early to find the small red envelopes containing sweets
or money under their pillows and married couples give unmarried
adults small packets of money and then the new year greetings
China today, the public holiday lasts for three days, but traditionally
the festivities continue until the 15th day of the lunar month
when the Lantern Festival is held.
is decorated with a variety of different sized lanterns and there
is music and dancing in the streets.
special feature is the dragon dance, where a huge dragon head
and body, supported by a team of dancers weaves its way around
the streets collecting money from houses on its route.
again, food plays its part and yuanxioa is served.
is a sweet or savoury dumpling made from glutinous rice flour
that is either boiled or fried.
out more about the Chinese Lunar Calendar and the animal ruling
your birth year>>