Of all the traditional Chinese holidays, none is bigger than the “Spring Festival” or as it is more commonly known, Chinese New Year. The centuries-old tradition of Chinese New Year is celebrated for fifteen days, this year beginning on February 10th. Chinese New Year is a time of forgiveness, renewal and wishes of peace and happiness for the coming year.
2013 is recognized as the “Year of the Snake” in Chinese custom and countries with large Chinese populations will decorate extensively with the Snake theme in the traditional colors of red and gold.
One of the most recognized customs relating to Chinese New Year is that of giving money to children in small red envelopes. Over the years, the popularity of using gold foiled chocolate coins has become synonymous with the two-week event. Chinese New Year now accounts for the sale of over 15 million chocolate coins worldwide, adorned with decorative symbols of the incoming year’s representative animal. From the days of waxy, dull-flavored chocolate, these coins have evolved into high-quality offerings often produced with some of Europe’s finest chocolates.
Chinese New year traditions vary in different parts of China and across the rest of the world. Some of the most typical traditions include:
New Year’s Eve Dinner
The eve of the New Year is a very important night in the Chinese culture and is usually a reunion, brining together relatives from near and far. Fish and dumplings are the two most often served dishes which represent prosperity.
The use of fireworks in the Chinese celebration symbolizes the driving away of evil spirits. It is believed that the first person to light a firework after the stroke of midnight on Chinese New Year Eve will receive a bounty of good luck.
Red envelopes containing money are given to children during Chinese New Year to ward off evil and keep the children healthy.
In recent years, chocolate coins have also been handed out in these small red paper envelopes.
Just prior to the start of the Chinese New Year, people will do a complete cleaning of their homes and all housewares. This practice is meant as a sort of “out with the old, in with the new.”
After the cleaning has been completed, the process of decorating for the incoming New Year begins. Red is the traditional color of Chines New Year. The most popular decorations for New Year are lanterns, paper cuttings, banners featuring the incoming year’s animal symbol, and upside-down “fu”, the Chinese symbols or luck. It is presented upside-down to symbolize “luck arriving.”
Happy Chinese New Year 2013!