Chinese New Year 2020 is on January 25, 2020. In the old days, the Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year for 15 days long from Chinese New Year Day to the Chinese Lantern Festival. These 15 days of the celebration are also called the Spring Festival. Chinese New Year is a national holiday in China. Today, the Chinese don't have 15 days off during the Spring Festival. But they have a 7-day long vacation and have enough time to go home for a family reunion at Chinese New Year's Eve.
Chinese New Year's Eve is the last lunar day of the last lunar month. It is the 30th or the 29th Lunar day of 12th Lunar Month. 2020 Chinese New Year's Eve is on January 24, 2020. In the past, the Chinese need to prepare almost a month for the Chinese New Year festival. Many Chinese still follow the culture to keep the traditional customs before Chinese New Year Day.
The most important event is the Winter Solstice, Tang-Yuan Day. Once, Winter Solstice is the first day of the year in the Chou Dynasty (1122 B.C.). On this day, the Chinese have to eat Tang-Yuan and then add one more year to their ages.
Winter Solstice is on around December 23, the day of the longest night. It's cold in December. Chinese eat Tang-Yuan to keep their bodies warm. Tang-Yuan is sweet glutinous balls made by sweet rice. Not every child likes sticky Tang-Yuan. Therefore, the Chinese invented a variety of Tang-Yuans. Tang-Yuan is filled with different ingredients inside such as red bean paste, creamy peanut or sesame paste. Also, Tang-Yuan can be served with whole red bean or whole peanut soup and become a tasty dessert.
In Chinese, Chinese New Year Eve is called Chu-Xi or Guo-Nian. Chu-Xi means moving away the night. Nian means Year. Guo-Nian means passing over the year. The original meaning of Nian is a huge, ferocious, carnivorous, and man-eater beast. If Nian cannot find any livestock to eat, then it will attack and eat the human. People must stay inside the house during the cold winter. Later, people found Nian was afraid of red, fire and noisy sound. People set up a campfire and burning the bamboo to make a cracking sound to scare Nian beast away. So the Chinese invented the firecrackers.
There are many dishes on the New Year's Eve dinner table. All dishes are the family favorable cookings. Every disk has an auspicious meaning behind it, such as longevity, reunion, perfection, good luck, health, diligence, satisfaction or promotion based on the homophone of the dish's name. The main dish sitting in the center of the table is Hot-Pot. The traditional Hot-Pot contains the bone soup and cooks with different kinds of sliced meat, seafood, vegetable, meatballs, and seafood balls during the dinner. It's a good yo eat and chat for a longer time and share love and care during the cold night. The Chinese call this moment as Wei-Lu, circling the stove together for the dinner.
Chinese don't touch fish on the table. This is because the homophone of fish is remainder, which means they have a surplus or extra saving at the end of the year. Also, they need leftovers for Chinese New Year Day - nobody cooks at home.
After dinner, that's an exciting time for the children. They are waiting for New Year's Hong Bao, the Lucky Red Envelope which contains the brand-new bill. Adults or parents will hand out the Red Envelopes to children, unmarried immediate family, and their parents before going to the bed. Children will put all Red Envelopes under the pillow when sleeping. They said children can sleep well without a bad dream and become richer next year. Some mothers will take away money from children after the Spring Festival by saying to save for their educations.
Some children might go out with friends to enjoy expending New Year's lucky money. People staying home watch TV shows for Chinese New Year special. There is a vigil custom to wait for the New Year coming. They said this can extend the lifespan of parents. Some family members play Mah-Jong to keep them awake.
Some people will gather outside the temple and wait for entering the temple. Everyone wants to be the first person of the year to be blessed by God. There is an incense stick race at many temples every year. The first person inserts the incense stick into the incense container at midnight can a big Red-Envelope and expect good luck in the coming year. Certainly, more people wait for the Chinese New Year fireworks.
Chinese New Year fireworks and firecrackers will open the celebration event on the first second of the Chinese New Year Day. People offer the New Year's greetings to each other, The most popular greeting is Gong Xi Fa Chai (Cantonese pronounces Gong Hay Fat Choy), which means "congratulations and make a fortune."
It's a custom in the old days that the Chinese will wear new clothes, pants, shoes, hats, or jackets on the Chinese New Year Day to welcome the new year. In the morning, People will go out to say Chinese New Year greetings to neighbors, friends, coworkers, and relatives. Before the time of the telephone and smartphones, school teachers will go back to school to greet each other. Government employees will go back to the office to say the happy new year to their colleagues. Now many people say Gong Xi Fa Chai by phone, text message or e-mail.
A child goes with an adult to visit someone and says Gong Xi Fa Chai, the kid might receive a Red Envelope. In Taiwan, the president, city majors, and temples will prepare many Red Envelopes for their supporters. Since the number of Red Envelopes is limited, people have to go earlier and wait in a long line in order to have a handshake and Red Envelope.
Many people become richer because of the culture of Red Envelopes. The department stores and shopping malls always have big sales during the Chinese New Year. They have great value of Lucky Bag for the early bird shoppers. You can hear Chinese New Year music and songs playing in the public areas. But if you want to see lion dancing or dragon dancing, you need to national culture squares or towns to see the Chinese New Year traditional activities such as lion dance, the god of wealth, parade, open theater opera, puppet show, etc.
The 5th Day of the Chinese New Year Festival is the Welcome Day of the God of Wealth. Many companies and business stores open the business on this day. Some business owners who have faith in religious choose an auspicious hour for an open business ceremony by worshiping the God of Wealth. After the ceremony, business stores will explode a long firecracker to get people's attention. Today, some cities ban the firecrackers, people play the recoding sound of firecrackers from tape or DVD players.
Some stores will invite a lion dancing team including a dancer of the God of Wealth during or after the ceremony. The sound of drums, cymbals, and firecracker attract people around to watch the performance. Then the lion dancing team wishes the store has a prosperous business to bring in wealth and treasure all year long. So they will be rewarded a Red Envelope from the store owner after the performance. Usually, the first customer could get a Red Envelope from the store owner.
The Chinese Lantern Festival is the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Chinese usually celebrate this festival by eating Yuan-xiao, carrying paper lanterns, solving the riddles on the lanterns, and flying Sky Lanterns. Since people eat Yuan-Xiao on this day, the Chinese Lantern Festival is also known as Yuan-Xiao Jie. Yuan-Xiao is similar to Tang-Yuan of Winter Solstice.
In the old days, Chinese Lanterns are made by paper and used for lighting purposes. People can carry them at dark night. They hanged on the ceilings of the house to light up the hallway at night. On the night of the Lantern Festival, children were supposed to carry the reddish paper candle lanterns to go out and have fun. Because of the safety issue, the candles are replaced by the LED color lights. The lantern displays are shown in the square of the town center, parks or temples. The 14th Day of the Chinese New Year Festival is the Lantern Decoration Day. People will bring their designed lantern to the display stage for the competition. The most popular lantern is always related to the Chinese horoscope animal of the new year.
The annual Taiwanese Lantern Festival always has a main gigantic lantern, which might be more than 20 meters high. The design of the lantern is from the laser and LED lights to high-tech Computing digital arts. The Lantern Festival has multiple sections for different style lanterns. The space of lantern displays might cover more than 20 acres.
A sky lantern works like a hot-air balloon. The candle flame bellow the lantern warms up the air inside it. Then the lantern floats up to the sky until the candle is extinguished. It is a spectacular scenery when thousands of sky lantern float and stay in the sky at night. Sky lanterns might cause a wildfire, most of the city ban this activity. Some cities hold the event on the beach. The Ping-Xi city in Taiwan is a wet city and allows sky lantern activity. People can write the blessing messages on the lantern and wish their messages flying to heaven.