Chinese New Year is right on our doorstep! While this festive season has many significant cultural traditions, many people forget that the eve of Chinese New Year is also important.
The history of Chinese New Year Eve can be traced back to over three thousand years. It originated during the Shang Dynasty, around 1600-1046 BC. People those days used to hold sacrificial ceremonies in honour of the gods and their ancestors during the New Year.
The Significance of Chinese New Year Eve
These days, Chinese New Year’s Eve focuses on family, and celebrating a new, harmonious start together. It’s the start of the longest holiday for China, and spans over half a month!
All family members travel back home around the world to have reunion dinners together. People travel across cities, states and countries in order to join their family in celebration of the new year. In Chinese culture, this is the most important meal of the year.
Families eat food that is believed to bring luck and prosperity, such as fish, dumplings, rice cakes and pork rolls. There are a lot of auspicious foods that continue to be eaten throughout Chinese New Year, however the ones on reunion night are the most important!
Besides the reunion dinner, there are a couple of other notable, traditional activities for Chinese New Year Eve performed by millions of Chinese people all around the world. Let’s take a look!
If you have a traditional Chinese family, you might partake extensively in this activity. On the eve of Chinese New Year, it’s customary to decorate houses with red decorations to welcome the new year.
Homes are decorated with calligraphy, red lanterns and tassels, red packets and cutouts, even couplets and paintings. People believed that these decorations would bring good luck into their homes, and scare evil away. The more red is used, the more blessings of peace, health and longevity.
For this year, people will choose to decorate their homes with rabbit-themed decorations! Run along to the stores if you haven’t picked some out yet.
Watching the Spring Festival Gala
People from almost every town in China, as well as many Chinese people overseas, spend the evening watching the Spring Festival Gala. It’s a television event produced by China Central Television (CCTV, CMG). It’s actually one of the biggest events on China’s entertainment calendar!
The show features China’s biggest celebrities, and features performances such as singing, dancing, Chinese opera, skits and other entertainment for the entire night of Chinese New Year Eve. The program starts at 8pm, lasting until the early morning of the New Year.
Packing Red Envelopes
We’re certain you will never miss this tradition! Families and married couples pack red envelopes and exchange blessings with their relatives and friends. They not only consist of money, but also symbolise good wishes and luck for the new year ahead.
In recent years, it’s become popular to send red packets digitally. China uses WeChat to send electronic red envelopes, while other applications like Grab or TouchnGo in Malaysia have QR red envelopes.
Staying Up For Countdown
Many Chinese families will stay up on Chinese New Year Eve to countdown to the new year together. In some parts of China, it’s actually believed that if you were to go to sleep early on Chinese New Year Eve, it would bring you misfortune! Staying up on Chinese New Year Eve represented longevity, and the longer you stayed awake, the better.
Expect lots of fireworks and firecrackers the moment the clock strikes midnight. People set fireworks off to ring in the new year – the more the better as they also believe that fireworks scare off evil!
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