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Spring Festival Days 2-15 Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in Buddhism, Culture, festivals, food, history, religion

So far we have talked about the history of the Spring Festival, the superstitions and traditions associated with the start of the holiday, and the Chinese Zodiac Calendar, but there’s much more to this festival, which lasts for 15 days.

The second day of the New Year is known as the beginning of the year (开年 – kāi nián), many women who have been married will visit their parents, as chances are they don’t do this very often during the year. Also, many people will pray and make offerings to their ancestors and the gods on this day. Some believe that this day is the birthday of all dogs, so puppies everywhere will get a special treat.

The third day of the New Year is known as red mouth (赤口 – chì kǒu). As this sounds similar to the word for the God of Blazing Wrath (赤狗日 – chì gǒu rì), it is believed that this is not a good day to visit relatives or friends. Some will visit the graves of recently deceased relatives to pay their respects. The fourth day is basically a continuation of the third, and some son-in-laws will visit and pay respects to their parents-in-law.

Mmm…. dumplings.

Day #5 is known as Po Wu (破五 – pò wǔ), and it’s another day for eating dumplings in northern China (there really are so many of them). It is also believed that this day is the birthday of the Chinese God of Wealth. On this day, no one visits family and friends, as it is believed doing so will bring both parties bad luck.

The sixth day is a time to visit temples, family, and friends freely. On the seventh day, Chinese will celebrate the common man’s birthday (人日 – rén rì). On this day, everyone grows one year older. Special foods are eaten by different people according to the origin of the people. For example, some eat noodles for longevity, while others eat raw fish for success.

By the eighth day, a whole lot of celebrating has been done, and it’s time for most people to get back to work. Government agencies and businesses will open their doors up once again, and the official holiday comes to an end. Some businesses will have a special lunch or dinner to thank their employees for all their hard work leading up to the New Year.

The Jade Emperor of Heaven

The ninth day is meant to make offerings for the birthday of the Jade Emperor of Heaven (天公 – tiān gōng). After that, the tenth through twelfth days are spent enjoying more delicious food with family and friends. With so much eating over two weeks, Day #13 is a day to start trying to work off all of that holiday feasting. On this day, people will eat purely vegetarian foods to cleanse their stomachs.

Image by Alpha from flickr.com.

With the festival finally drawing to a close, the fourteenth day is spent making decorations for the next, and final day – the Lantern Festival (元宵节 – yuán xiāo jié). This is the first day of the full moon, so rice dumplings (汤圆 – tāng yuán) that resemble the moon are eaten. Outside of homes everywhere, candles are lit to guide wayward spirits home. People decorate lanterns and carry them through the streets to temples on this special day. Also, as fireworks officially become illegal at the end of the Spring Festival, people will blow up their remaining stash, making the streets of Beijing light up in a noisy blaze.

An AP video from 2009 about Lantern Festival celebrations.

A short video showing the madness of the fireworks in Beijing during last year’s Lantern Festival.

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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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