Top 10 Customs on Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as “Spring Festival” is the most important festival to Chinese people. The literal translation is: 春节 (chūn jié). How do Chinese people celebrate the New Year? Now, let’s count down the top 10 most popular customs and traditions on Chinese New Year!

No. 10 大扫除 (dà sǎochú) Cleaning

Before the Lunar New Year comes, it is a tradition for every Chinese family to thoroughly clean the house. People do this in order to sweep away the past and to make way for good fortune to come.

No. 9 贴春联 (tiē chūnlián) Pasting New Year Couplets

Chinese people will decorate their doors and windows with red-color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.  Besides, pasting the Chinese character “福 ()” upside down is an extremely popular custom among Chinese people. 福 means “good fortune” and “happiness” in Chinese. Pasting it upside down indicates “the arrival of fortune and happiness”.

Pasting New Year Couplets

No. 8 买年货 (mǎi niánhuò) New Year Purchasing

Chinese people regard the New Year as an important event. Just weeks before New Year comes, every family will get busy buying all kinds of things: fruit, sweets, clothes, gifts, decorations, etc. New Year purchasing not only brings more fun to the festival but serves as an important factor for increasing the consumption.

No. 7 放鞭炮 (fànɡ biānpào) Setting off Fireworks

Setting off fireworks has been the most practiced custom during the Spring Festival, because Chinese people believe that the cracking sound can drive away evil spirits. In recent years, however, the Chinese government has banned fireworks in major cities of China, considering safety, noise and pollution factors.

Setting Off Firecrackers

No. 6 吃团圆饭 (chī tuányuán fàn) Eating Reunion Dinner

Despite the fact that the festival begins on the first day of the first month in Chinese lunar calendar, Chinese people begin celebrating it on Chinese New Year’s Eve, or 除夕 (chúxī). On that day, Chinese families will gather for their 团圆饭, an annual reunion dinner.

No. 5 看春节晚会 (kàn chūnjié wǎnhuì) Watching New Year’s Gala

Watching New Year’s Gala is an indispensible part of Chinese Spring Festival. This is a comprehensive art and performance event on the festival’s eve. Performances include basic elements such as skits, cross talk (相声 xiànɡshenɡ), songs, dances, etc.

No. 4 守岁 (shǒusuì) Staying Up

Since ancient times, China has the custom of staying up late on New Year Eve. After the reunion dinner, family members will sit and chat over the New Year’s Gala show while waiting for the arrival of the New Year.

No. 3 祭祖 (jìzǔ) Ancestor Worship

Ancestor worship has been practiced in China every year for thousands of years. On the first day of the New Year, family members will light joss sticks and offer sacrifices to their ancestors. Then they will kneel and bow to show respect. Chinese people believe that ancestral spirits will protect their descendants and make them become prosperous.

No. 2 拜访寺庙 (bàifǎnɡ sìmiào) Visiting Temples

Visiting temples is yet another popular practice during Chinese Spring Festival. In most Chinese temples, there are various “gods”, such as “god of wealth”, “god of birth”, “god of health”, etc. People will burn joss sticks and pray for good fortune, happiness and wealth in the coming year.

Chinese New Year Custom

No. 1 拜年 (bàinián) New Year Greetings

Exchanging New Year Greetings is one of the most important activities during the Chinese New Year. The character “拜” literally means “to make a courteous bow”. As a traditional custom, 拜年 is a way of showing respect and friendship.

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