The Spring Festival
The Chinese Spring Festival or the Chinese Lunar New Year is the most important and widely observed festival throughout the whole country. The dates for this annual celebration are determined by the lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, so the timing of the holiday varies from late January to early February. The Spring Festival falls on Jan 29th in 2006.
To the Chinese, the Spring Festival is a time for family union, for visits with friends, for good wishes for the coming year. Before the eve of the New Year, everyone tries to come back home from every corner of the country to join the entire family, just like Americans' practice for Christmas, to greet the New Year.
A New Year big dinner is served. After the meal, the table is cleared, dishes washed and put away. Then it is time to undertake final preparations to meet the New Year.
At midnight following a nice family banquet on the New Year's Eve, the young members of the family would bow and pay their respects to the parents and elders.
In the morning, people put on their new clothes and shoes. Men, with their wives, call on relatives and friends to wish them a "Happy and Prosperous New Year ". The caller is served tea with sweet-meats; melon seeds, both red and black; and fruits and delicacies such as puffed rice cakes, dump-lings and deep-fried round doughnuts. In addition, liquor and tobacco are offered. Before leaving, the well-wisher present gifts of money wrapped in red paper to all the unmarried children of the family.
Starting from the New Year's Day, people began going out to visit friends and relatives, taking with them gifts such as fruits, wines, flowers, etc. The entire fortnight was a time for socializing and amusement. Common expressions heard at this time are: Guonian Hao (Happy New Year), and Bainian (to congratulate the New Year).
The burning of long strings of firecrackers accompanies the Eve of the New Year. Most adults and children do not touch their bed the whole night, busy at all kinds of activities welcoming the New Year.
The New Year celebration lasts for fifteen days, allowing time for various entertainments to be enjoyed, including games of mahjong and dominos at home or at clubs. There are also animal shows featuring trained dogs and monkeys, theatrical plays staged by amateur and professional troupes, acrobatic performances, magic shows, puppet shows, storytelling and lion and dragon dances, especially in the country.
Today a lot of traditional customs are still observed among the Chinese people across the world.