Chinese New Year (based on the Chinese lunar calendar), also called Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in China. Usually the New Year celebration lasts for 16 days (from Chinese New Year's E
ve until the Lantern Festival).
Preparation for the Chinese New Year (Jan 31- February 6, 2016)
Chinese usually start to prepare for the new year one week ahead, from the 23rd of the 12th lunar month. Here are what Chinese people often do for preparing the Chinese new year.
请假回家（qǐnɡ jià huí jiā） Ask leave from work to go home
For Spring Festival, we usually have seven days off. Lots of Chinese young people work far away from their hometown. So to stay with their families for more days during Spring Festival, they always ask for a few days leave to go home before the New Year.
买年货（mǎi nián huò）Spring Festival shopping
Chinese people often buy lots of goods to prepare for the New Year, such as snacks, new clothes (usually for the children), firecrackers, Spring Festival scrolls, gifts for their elders, and so on. Chinese people are usually quite thrifty, but they enjoy being generous for this most important holiday.
打扫屋子（dá sǎo wū zi） Housecleaning
Chinese people like to clean their house before the New Year, and it has an official name: "sweeping the dust." It represents sweeping out the old and bad things from the previous year to welcome the near year.
New Year's Eve (February 7, 2016)
Actually, the Chinese New Year's Eve, this year on February 7, is the most important day during Spring Festival. Here is how Chinese celebrate it.
贴春联Hanging spring couplets
春联 tiē chūn lián ， spring couplets, are paired phrases, in black or gold on red paper. People usually hang them on the each side of a door frame. The couplets provide best wishes for the New Year.
吃团圆饭（chī tuán yuán fàn） Enjoy a reunion dinner
The Chinese New Year' Eve reunion dinner with all family members is the most important part of the celebration and certainly the most important meal to be shared. It is important to prepare lots of all kinds of food for the reunion dinner, especially those kinds that symbolize best wishes for the New Year. Take fish, for example. The Chinese character is "鱼", and sounds similar to "余"(surplus), so it means "年年有余"（every year there is always surplus at the end of the year）. In northern China, jiaozi (dumplings) are a traditional dish for the feast, because the shape of jiaozi is like the old Chinese ingots, so the food symbolizes wealth. Chinese ingots are small pieces of silver or gold formed into a shape and used as currency until the 20th century. In southern China, people eat niango, because niaogao (sticky rice cake ) which sounds like "yearly higher," a symbol of improvement.
看春晚(kàn chūn wǎn) Watch the Spring Festival Gala on CCTV channel
Since the 1990s , watching the Spring Festival Gala on CCTV has become a custom for Chinese. This variety show usually starts at 8:00 pm and lasts for four hours– until midnight, when New Year 's Eve ends. The program includes songs, dance, skits, comedy routines, magic and so on. (Not surprisingly, opinion polls in China show that today's young people are not particularly interested in it, with their own media and social media probably of greater interest to them.)
放鞭炮(fànɡ biān pào) Set off firecrackers
At nearly midnight, you will see and hear lots of fireworks. The sights and sounds really exemplify Chinese New Year. However, in recent years the government has discouraged fireworks because of China's air pollution problems. Yet, some fireworks have been invented that reduce the negative environmental impact of the smoke. Those who are unfamiliar with the residue of fireworks will soon see it in the scraps of red paper that abound in the streets after setting off fireworks.
新年敲钟（xīn nián qiāo zhōnɡ） The New Year Bell
Another symbol of the holiday, the New Year bell rings at midnight. Chinese believe that the New Year bell can drive away bad luck and bring good future. Some Chinese elders enjoy visiting a temple for the ringing of the bell.
守岁(shǒu suì) Stay up all night
In Chinese traditional custom, people should stay up all night for the celebration that starts on New Year 's Eve. It called "守岁 ". But nowadays, most people go to bed after the mid night bell and fireworks end.
New Year 's Day and Spring Festival (February 8 - February 22, 2016)
Day 1: Everyone stays with their parents, and the kids put on new clothes and greet their elders. Elders give red envelopes (lucky money) to the kids after the greeting. Usually we say "过年好" to elders as the new year greeting.
Day 2: Usually married women go back to their own parents' home on this day.
Day 3-Day 7: Visit relatives and have fun together, playing games such as mahjong or poker.
Day 8-Day 14: Most people go back to work on day 8 of the New Year.
Day 15: Lantern festival. It is the traditional end of the New Year. People usually eat rice dumplings and enjoy the beautiful lanterns.
This is the whole process of how Chinese people celebrate the spring festival. Do you want to enjoy these festive days with us? Well, Hanbridge Mandarin Language School has prepared a New Year red envelope for you with lots of gifts in it. You can click here to see the activity details.