In many cultures, January 1 marks the beginning of a new year. But in the eyes of billions of Chinese people, the traditional time of new beginnings is the Spring Festival, and one of the two most important occasions for family reunions (the other is the Mid-Autumn Festival around September). According to the lunar calendar, the Year of the Monkey--ninth of the 12 Chinese zodiac symbols--begins on February 8, 2016.
Usually, the Chinese New Year celebration lasts for three weeks, starting from the 23rd day of the previous year's 12th (and final) month of the lunar calendar until the 15th day of the New Year.
Here are some centuries-old traditions shared by the Chinese community in order to promote blessings of health and wealth in the New Year.
- Spring cleaning. Every family will clean house one week ahead of the New Year because it is widely believed that a freshly cleaned house will be more prosperous.
- Making decorations. People will make red paper crafts, Chinese characters or poetry scrolls that symbolize luck, happiness and blessings, and stick them onto doors and windows.
- Setting off firecrackers. In fairy tales, people managed to scare away a monster named Year by setting off firecrackers. In reality, the sound of firecrackers heightens the celebratory mood.
- Lucky money. Seniors give kids lucky money in red envelopes, a blessing to make their future a little brighter.
- Eating dumplings. The shape of a dumpling looks like somewhat like the gold or silver ingots that were used in ancient times. People believe the more dumplings you eat, the more wealth you will bring in during the new year. It is customary to eat dumplings on Chinese New Year's Eve as well as on the first and fifth days of the new year.