Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy New Year! Today is the Chinese New Year. The year of Snake!


The Chinese New Year is the most important of the holidays for Chinese. It is defined to be the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. Unlike the Christian New Year which is based on a solar calendar, the Chinese New Year is based on a traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year.

 A lunar month is around 2 days shorter than a solar month. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar, an extra month is inserted every few years. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.

Normally, the celebration will start from the New Year's Eve and will last for around 15 days until the mid of the first month. Before the celebration, people will normally do a complete cleaning of the house and put on the traditional New Year decoration. Family reunion is the most important part of the Chinese New Year celebration. 

The New Year's Eve is the time for family reunion. Following by the reunion, people will normally visit relatives and friends, doing shopping, watch some traditional Chinese shows, launch some fireworks, and plan for the coming year. 

The celebration will sometimes be highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of heaven, earth, and other gods, as well as the family ancestors. In modern China, working professionals will normally have 7 days of holiday including weekend to celebrate. After the family reunion, some modern Chinese may take the chance to visit some tourist destinations.

New Year's Eve Dinner

The New Year's Eve dinner is the most important dinner for Chinese. Normally this is the family reunion dinner, especially for those with family member away from home. In the New Year's Eve dinner, normally fish will be served. 

Dumplings are the most important disk in northern china. These two dishes mean prosperous. Other disks are depending on personal preference. The majority of Chinese will have New Year's Eve dinner at home instead of restaurant.


Fireworks are used to drive away the evil in China. Right after the 12:00PM of the New Year's Eve, fireworks will be launched to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as driven away the evil. It is believed that the person who launched the first Fireworks in the New Year will get good luck.

Shou Sui

Shou Sui means after the New Year's Eve dinner, family member will normally stay awake during the night. Some people just stay until the mid night, after the fireworks. According to tales and legends, there was a mythical beast called the "Year". At the night of New Year's Eve, the "Year" will come out to harm people, animals, and proprieties. 

Later people found that the "Year" is afraid of red color, fire, and loud sound. Therefore, at the New Year's Eve night, people will launch fireworks, put on some fires, and stay awakes the whole night to fend of the "Year".

Red Packets

Red packet is a red envelope with money in it, range from one to a few thousand Chinese Yuan. Usually the red racket is given by adults, especially married couple, and elderly to young children in the New Year days. It was believed that the money in the red packet will suppress the evil from the children, keep the children healthy, and long living.

New Year Markets

At the New Years days, a temporarily market will be setup mainly selling New Year goods, such as clothing, fireworks, decoration, foods, small arts, etc. The market is usually decorated with a large amount of lanterns.

Small Year

Small year is the 23th or 24th of the last month of the year. It is said that this is the day the food god will leave the family to go to the heaven to report the activity of family to the Emperor of the heaven. People will have some religious ceremony to farewell the food god, including take down and burn the paint of the food god. After the New Year's Day, people will buy a new paint of the food god and post it at the kitchen.


A few days before the Chinese New Year, people will do a complete cleaning of the house and house ware; means get rid of the old and welcome the new. In old days when bath is not often, people will normally take a throughout bath to welcome the New Year.


After the cleaning, people will decorate the house to welcome the New Year. Most of the decorations are red in color. The most popular New Year decorations are upside down fu, dui lian, lantern, year paint, papercutting, door god, etc..

Kitchen GodSpring Festival has a series of activities, or rather, must-does. They are acknowledged as Spring Festival Custom collectively, which is handed down from generation to generation and hence is an important part of the very traditional China
However, in different regions, there exits minor differences, therefore major conventions are listed below in time sequence for reference only.

Kitchen God Worshipping

Kitchen God
Worshipping is also known as the Small New Year (小年) in Beijing. The offerings include several bowls of Tangguo, a bowl of water, and a bowl of grass. Tangguo is a sort of candy made from glutinous millet and wheat germ. 
It is very sticky. When the Kitchen God eats the candy, he will have his mouth stuck down so that the god cannot report the bad deeds to Emperor Jade, who has traditionally been regarded as the king of the gods by Chinese Taoists. 
The water and grass are offered to the Kitchen God’s horse. In old Beijing, only men were allowed to worship Kitchen God. Now with the improvement of sexual equality, women can do the worshipping, too.

Kitchen God Worshipping generally takes place on Lunar December 23rd or 24th. It is an influential and popular traditional activity of China, which indicates the beginning of Spring Festival. Kitchen God refers to the god residing in the kitchen. Chinese believe each family has a Kitchen God who protects and supervises the family. 
There is often a small holy shrine for the god in each kitchen. Those who don’t have a shrine in their Kitchen Godkitchens often stick a portrait of the god on the kitchen wall. Sometimes, you may come across a family who has a portrait of both Kitchen God and Kitchen Goddess, the wife of Kitchen God.

Why do the Chinese worship Kitchen God and offer sacrifice to him when the Chinese New Year draws near? 
It is because they believe at the end of each year the god will ascend to the heaven to report to Jade Emperor, the king of all Chinese gods, what the family has done during the year, both good deeds and bad deeds. 
Jade Emperor will judge by the report whether the family should be punished or awarded. Therefore, what the Kitchen God reports to the Jade Emperor is directly connected with the family’s future fate. They offer sacrifice to please the god hoping that the god can put in a good word for them. 
The couplet beside the portrait often reveals the hope. It reads: “Report good deeds in heaven, protect the family on earth.”

around the web

The 2013 Year of Snake _Chinese Language Companion - HanBan ...
Chinese Horoscopes - The Snake
2013 Chinese Horoscope - The Year of Black Snake
Chinese New Year 2013 rings in Year of the Snake
2013: Year of the Snake
What fortune will the Year of the Snake bring you?
Chinese New Year 2013: Year of Snake Follows Coveted Dragon Period
Year of the Snake(skin)

 cybershamans (karmapolice) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0


Thanks for this post which I just linked to mine on the same subject. Happy New Year of the Snake my Nagini.

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