The lunar new year is a great occasion to the chinese people. it lasts about the first four days of the year,during which people do not work except for the workers on duty. students do not go to school,and shops are closed.several days before the new year,people begin to prepare. farmers kill pigs,sheep,cocks and hens. city dwellers buy meat fish and vegetables. houses are cleaned; coupletsare posted on the doors. colourful lanterns are hung at the gate.
On the eve of the new year,each family has its members gatherd together and eats a family reunion dinner. after the meal they watch tv until the clock strickes twelve. then every family sets off long strings of small firecrackers and other fire works to welcome the new year. on the first day of the new year,almost everyone is dressed in his or her best.
when people meet on the way,they say to each other “happy new year”. friends and relatives pay new year calls and gives presents to each other. children indulge themselves in games.
the spring festival is the most important festival for the chinese people and is when all family members get together, just like christmas in the west. all people living away from home go back, becoming the busiest time for transportation systems of about half a month from the spring festival. airports, railway stations and long-distance bus stations are crowded with home returnees.the spring festival falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month, often one month later than the gregorian calendar. it originated in the shang dynasty (c. 1600 bc-c. 1100 bc) from the people’s sacrifice to gods and ancestors at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one.
strictly speaking, the spring festival starts every year in the early days of the 12th lunar month and will last till the mid 1st lunar month of the next year. of them, the most important days are spring festival eve and the first three days. the chinese government now stipulates people have seven days off for the chinese lunar new year.many customs accompany the spring festival. some are still followed today, but others have weakened.on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month, many families make laba porridge, a delicious kind of porridge made with glutinous rice, millet, seeds of job’s tears, jujube berries, lotus seeds, beans, longan and gingko.the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month is called preliminary eve. at this time, people offer sacrifice to the kitchen god. now however, most families make delicious food to enjoy themselves.after the preliminary eve, people begin prepa ring for the coming new year. this is called “seeing the new year in”.store owners are busy then as everybody goes out to purchase necessities for the new year. materials not only include edible oil, rice, flour, chicken, duck, fish and meat, but also fruit, candies and kinds of nuts. what’s more, various decorations, new clothes and shoes for the children as well as gifts for the elderly, friends and relatives, are all on the list of purchasing.before the new year comes, the people completely clean the indoors and outdoors of their homes as well as their clothes, bedclothes and all their utensils.then people begin decorating their clean rooms featuring an atmosphere of rejoicing and festivity. all the door panels will be pasted with spring festival couplets, highlighting chinese calligraphy with black characters on red paper. the content varies from house owners’ wishes for a bright future to good luck for the new year. also, pictures of the god of doors and wealth will be posted on front doors to ward off evil spirits and welcome peace and abundance.the chinese character “fu” (meaning blessing or happiness) is a must.
the character put on paper can be pasted normally or upside down, for in chinese the “reversed fu” is homophonic with “fu comes”, both being pronounced as “fudaole.” what’s more, two big red lanterns can be raised on both sides of the front door. red paper-cuttings can be seen on window glass and brightly colored new year paintings with auspicious meanings may be put on the wall.