Chinese New Year is celebrated every year, starting on the first new moon of the New Year and ends 15 days later with a full moon. The last day of the New Year celebrations is called the Lantern Festival, celebrated with lantern displays, singing, dancing, lantern shows and parades during the night. The celebrations are meant for families to spend time together and are also considered a time for thanksgiving and reunions. Traditionally the New Year celebrations were highlighted with a religious ceremony consisting of a sacrifice given in honour to the ancestors. The sacrifices were meant to unite the living with their family who has passed on. Before New Year’s Day, Chinese families typically decorate their homes with pretty blossoms, tangerine and orange platters, candy tray with a variety of dried sweet fruit, and poetic couplets and happy wishes that are written on red paper and placed on the walls and doors. The main reason for the Chinese New Year celebrations is for peace and happiness for families and their friends.
• Cleaning is not to be done on New Year’s Day in fear of sweeping away good fortune. The cleaning is done before New Year’s Day and all cleaning equipment is put away on New Year’s Eve.
• All debts are to be paid before New Year’s Day.
• Everyone is refrained from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. Words that were not to be said were negative words and the number four, which sounds like the word for death. Also the word death and anything that is associated with death are never mentioned. Ghost stories were prohibited as are references to the past year.
• Crying on New Year’s Day meant that you would cry throughout the year, which meant that children were tolerated no matter how unruly.
• A person wasn’t supposed to wash their hair on New Year’s Day for fear of washing away the good luck.
• Red is the preferred colour to wear during the festivities. It is said to bring the wearer a bright and sunny future, since red is a bright, happy colour.
Red Envelope (or Packet):
Children and unmarried friends are given for good fortune, a little red envelope with money inside. This ancient custom is called Hong Bao. It involves the married couples giving red envelopes with money to their children, their friend’s children and also to unmarried people. They are also popular as wedding and birthday gifts. The envelope is often decorated with lucky symbols for luck and wealth.