I am still trying to understand the many traditions that are carried on during this time. It must be a good time for retailers as everyone needs a new set of clothing, and so many gifts are purchased during this time for family members. As well there is the food - as all festivals in China involved getting together with family and friends and enjoying special foods.
The New Year's Eve Dinner or Reunion Dinner is held on New Year's Eve, and many family members come together to prepare this meal. You can read here more about the food and traditions of the Reunion Dinner.
After the Reunion Dinner family members talk about the great things that have happened to the family during the previous year, and they make plans or speak in a positive way about the coming year.
There are many superstitions at this time. From Wikipedia the following gives some information on how to promote Good Luck for the coming year.
- Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year.
- Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
- Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
- It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, as explained below, cleaning the house on or after New Year's Day is frowned upon)
- Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the year to come. Chinese people will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity.
- Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you.
- The night before the new year, bathe yourself in pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the new year.
- Changing different things in the house such as blankets, clothes, mattress covers etc. is also a well respected tradition in terms of cleaning the house in preparation for the new year.
Red Packets? Children love this part of the celebration - parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts put coins into a pretty envelope decorated with red and gold, and give to the children.
We are now in the year of the Ox, though I have read that some call it the year of the bull, or the year of the cow.