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Spring Festival

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To Chinese people, the Spring Festival is the most important holiday, like Christmas to westerners. The Spring Festival is celebrated at the first day of the first lunar month, which is the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar. This day gets this name because the Beginning of Spring, the first one of the 24 solar terms, is just around this day.

Another name of the Spring Festival is Guo Nian, literally, to pass the year. What is Nian? According to Chinese tales and legends, in the ancient times, a mythical beast with horns called the Nian that lived in the deep ocean and would come out on land to eat villagers and livestock once a year at the eve of Spring Festival. On one The Spring Festival eve, when people of Taohua village were equipping themselves to flee, came a white-bearded old beggar. Villagers in picnic spared no attention to this poor stranger. But an old woman living in the east of the village gave him some food and advised him to run away as some as possible. The old man said with smile that he can subdue Nian and therefore stay in this village. At the midnight, Nian ran into the village and sensed a little difference. Red paper was put on the gate of the old women’s house and the lights in the house were burning. At the moment of Nian running into the house, loud noises burst out and scared Nian away.

Nian was afraid of the color red, flames and loud noises. When villagers came back, they were so surprised when finding their home was complete as before. The old woman thought of that beggar’s promise. When people rushed into the granny’s home, they saw red paper on the gate, burning bamboo with crackle in the garden and flaming red candles in the room. To celebrate the coming of happiness, ecstatic people put on their new clothing and hats and visited relatives to share good news. The method to boot Nian out spread around soon.

From then on, on each Spring Festival, every family pasts red couplets on the gate, sets off fireworks and lightens candles all night, waiting for the coming of a new year. On the first day, they will visit relatives to give out their blessing. With the spreading of this custom, The Spring Festival becomes the most solemn traditional festival.

The Spring Festival is an occasion for families to reunite, which is similar to Christmas in the West. Children will come back home from thousands of miles away. The night before the Spring Festival is named as Reunion Night. On that night, families will sit together making Jiaozi. First, people will mix dough into pieces of round dough, meaning gathering. In Chinese, Jiao in Jiaozi sounds like gathering which means reunion. Therefore in China Jiaozi symbolizes reunion. Jiaozi should be eaten at the midnight, the turn point from the old year to a new year.

The joyous atmosphere will last for a month. On the first day of the lunar month, people will hold ceremonies, such as offering a sacrifice to the Kitchen God and ancestors. On the second day, adults will give children lucky money and relatives and friends visit each other. Half a month later, the Lantern Festival comes. On that day, streets are decorated with lanterns and filled with joyous people. On that day, people eat Tang-yuan, a kind of glue pudding and enjoy beautiful lanterns as well as lion dance. The end of Lantern Festival ushers the pass of the Spring Festival.


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