Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, has more than 4,000 years of history. It is the grandest and the most important annual event for Chinese people.
Being one of the traditional festivals, it is the time for the whole families to reunite together, which is similar with Christmas Day to the westerners.
Most employees in China have at least seven days off work, including three days' legal holiday, while students take one month absence from school. The celebration lasts for 15 days from the 1st to 15th day of the first lunar month, and in folklore it starts even earlier, from the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month.
Originating during the Shang Dynasty (17th - 11th century BC), the festival used to be observed to fight against the monster 'Nian' who liked to eat children and livestock. The monster was afraid of red color and loud sound. Therefore, people decorated their houses in red and set off firecrackers to expel it.
Paste (Spring Festival) Couplets
With black or golden characters written on red paper, Spring Festival Couplets are composed of a pair of poetry lines vertically pasted on both sides of the front door and a four-character horizontal scroll affixed above the doorframe. Pasting couplets expresses people’s delight in the festival and wishes for a better life in the coming year.
The first line (upper scroll) and the second line (lower scroll) have parallel structures and antithetical meanings. The two lines should have an equal number of characters, while their meaning must be related and antithetical. There must be a one-to-one correspondence between the two lines. The tone pattern is emphasized but rhythm is not important. The horizontal scroll is a four-character phrase, which sums up the two lines’ meaning.
Red envelopes, also called red packets, lucky money, or hongbao in Chinese, are a popular monetary gift given on some important occasions or festivals in China and some other Asian countries, especially widely seen during the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). It is a Chinese New Year gift with money stuffed into red paper to kids. The red packets are usually presented by parents and grandparents to children during Chinese New Year, which is probably one of the most recognized traditions that are observed during the Festival. Children or unmarried members of the younger generation look forward to receiving lucky money from others, something which is definitely not a privilege that adults enjoy. Elderly people give young generation red envelop as a protection (from Monster Nian) and share the blessing.
The Spring Festival Travel Rush, also known as Chunyun in Chinese, or Chinese New Year Travel Rush, Lunar New Year Travel Rush is the largest annual migration on earth. It usually begins 15 days ahead of the Chinese New Year and 25 days after, lasting for 40 days. During the Spring Festival Rush, China, especially its railway system, faces an extremely high traffic load, which results in great difficulties to obtain a ticket, crowded railway stations and train carriages. The 2017 Spring Festival Travel Rush will be from Jan. 13 to Feb. 21, 2017, when train tickets will be under great demand. TravelChinaGuide recommends you to avoid traveling to China during the period or book the tickets as early as possible.