Chinese New Year’s Eve begins during the first week of February, 2019. Chinese New Year celebrations last for fifteen days, beginning on the evening of the first day of the new year. Chinese New Year’s is different than that in the Western world, because the Chinese use a lunar calendar. New Years Even can be anytime from January to March each year, depending on the calendar for the year.
Preparing for the Chinese New Year is just as important as the festivities that occur during the fifteen day New Year celebration that takes place in many different Chinese-influenced countries. Most families begin by cleaning their home carefully, since beginning on Chinese New Year’s Eve no sweeping can be done to ensure no one sweeps their good luck away. Families also work on filling their refrigerators and pantries before the New Year to represent incoming abundance for the upcoming year.
Chinese New Year Eve
Traditionally, people would store food throughout the year in anticipation of the New Year’s festivities, but today many wait until closer to the feast to purchase their foods and stock their refrigerators. On the first day of the new year, most people avoid eating meat. This tradition may or may not be honored, depending on the family’s personal traditions for the holiday. Families may also pray to their ancestors during New Years Eve, as well as prepare traditional meals to eat together.
Guo Nian is what the Chinese people call Chinese New Year Eve. During New Years, tradition tells of Nian, a beast who came to destroy people, crops, and livestock. Guo means “pass over” in Chinese, so the name of the holiday is to ensure Nian doesn’t bring back luck to the people. The myth says that a beggar stopped Nian from coming into the homes of a village by putting red paper ornaments on the doors of homes to push him away from the village. In frustration, Nian was planning on bursting through the home when he heard fireworks begin to explode. All of the sudden, beggar ran out laughing and dressed in red, scaring Nian back to the bottom of the sea.
Nian ran away in fear from the beggar. The color red is still used to decorate homes, especially doors and windows, and red clothing and ornaments are still used to keep Nian away. Many people also follow the tradition of passing out red envelopes, usually with a gift of money inside, to friends and family. New red clothing is also a popular gift to give during the Chinese New Year’s Eve, as well. In most towns that celebrate the Chinese New Year, there is also a large bell that is rung each year to mark the beginning of the new year.
Just like Western culture, Chinese New Year is often celebrated by staying up later than usual to welcome the new year. Each year is also related to an animal. For example, Happy New Year 2019 is the year of the Rabbit, an animal that was one twelve animals that attended the festival held by the Jade Emperor. In honor of these twelve animals, a year was named after each of them, a tradition that is still followed in Chinese astrology.