Chinese New Year, also known as the Chinese Spring Festival is the most important of the Chinese Festivals.
What you need to know:
2015 is the Year of the Sheep (or Goat) in the Element of Wood, it occurs only every 60 years. (If you are a Goat you should wear red underwear in 2015 for good luck.).
Starts Thursday 19th February which is the first day of the first lunar month – Ends with the Lantern Festival.
Wherever they are, Chinese come home to celebrate the festival with their families causing travel chaos throughout Asia in what is recognised as the largest human migration in the world. The Spring Movement (Chunyung) sees 1.5 billion people on the move!
The Spring Festival is more than 4,000 years old, traditional celebrations include setting off firecrackers, ancestor worship and dragon dances.
Red is the colour of luck and predominant through the festival. Lucky Decorations (all red) decorate the streets, buildings and houses.
Red Envelopes (Lei Sei) containing money are given to children and retired seniors.
Lucky Foods are eaten such as Fish and Chinese Dumplings, Spring Rolls, Glutinous Rice Cakes and Sweet Rice Balls.
Clean your home – “Sweep away the bad luck” that has accumulated inside over the last year!
Decorate! – Paint your house red! Place Lotus flowers around your house (symbolising rebirth) and mandarins in bowls throughout the house (each bowl having even numbers and eat in pairs for good luck). Set out 8 trays of treats (any treats are fine).
Appease the Kitchen God – 7 days before New Year the Kitchen God is said to report on the family’s behaviour to the Jade Emperor. Keep on your best behaviour and offer a sacrifice such as sweets, peanuts or Sticky Cake (Nian Gao).
On New Years Eve prepare your dumplings, hiding a coin in one of them. Whoever gets the dumpling with the coin will have good luck!
Set off firecrackers at midnight when the New Year begins. The louder the better to scare away bad spirits.
Give your red envelopes to the children and elderly in your life.