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Chinese New Year Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Culture, festivals, Vocabulary

The year of the snake is winding down as we get ready to enter the year of the horse. At the moment, millions upon millions of Chinese are cramming bus stations, highways, train stations, and airplanes in a mad rush to get home to welcome in the new year. This madness is known as the Spring Festival travel season (春运 – chūn yùn), and it’s best avoided. Aside from this transport related chaos, the Spring Festival is an incredibly exciting and interesting time of the year. It’s the most important festival in Chinese culture, and it is rich in traditions and customs. We’ve devoted a lot of time to this holiday in years past, so go back to these posts to get totally schooled on the Chinese New Year:

Clip art © by Dixie Allan, 
http://webclipart.about.com

Clip art © by Dixie Allan, 
http://webclipart.about.com

  • Spring Festival Part One – In this post, we discuss the basics of this very important festival, as well as the fascinating backstory. Why do Chinese people wear red? Why do they light off so many fireworks? You’ll know after reading this.
  • Spring Festival Part Two – A lot goes into getting ready for such a big celebration. Learn how Chinese families prepare and get ready to ring in the New Year with this post, which discusses New Year’s Eve traditions such as placing coins inside of “lucky” dumplings.
  • Spring Festival Part Three – As has previously been mentioned, the Spring Festival lasts for 15 days. Find out what people do on these days in this post, which includes Buddhist traditions, lion dances, and much more.
  • Spring Festival Days 2-15 – This one is sort of an elaboration on the previous year’s Part Three write-up, as it has more details about what people do throughout the many days of the festival.
  • Red Envelopes – Why do children love the Spring Festival so much? Well, other than having a long holiday from school, the fact that adults give them red envelopes stuffed with money probably helps…
  • Superstitions and Traditions – Why shouldn’t you get a haircut in the first month of the New Year? Why do Chinese people hang the character for good fortune (福 – fú) upside down? Well, you’ll just have to read this post to find out!
  • Chinese Zodiac Calendar – Are you well versed in the Chinese zodiac calendar? Do you know the 12 animals and which years they represent? What does it all mean, anyways!? You’ll know a lot more once you finish reading this one.

A short video about the Spring Festival, including some useful Chinese vocab.

I’ll leave you all with one of the most common Chinese greetings during the Spring Festival:

恭喜发财 – gōng xǐ fā cái

This basically wishes you a happy new year full of success and prosperity.

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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


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