Preparations for the New Year begin a couple of weeks before the big day.
This is a fun time full of anticipation and joy as we get ready for the thrill and excitement of the celebrations.
According to the traditions, this is the time to clean the house, prepare food for the feast and make banners and decorations special for the New Year.
Also important at this time is remembering and paying respects to the ancestors to earn favors and good fortune for the new year.
A clean house to welcome the New Year
Before the New Year comes, it is one of the Chinese New Year customs to clean the house from top to bottom to get rid off all the bad luck gathered in the previous year.
And after the New Year comes, you cannot sweep during the first days otherwise all the new luck will sweep away!
So one of your Chinese New Year activities will be to... clean your room! Wouldn't want all that accumulated bad luck
for another year would you??!!
Cleaning house also means settling all your unfinished business to start fresh for the new year: Pay off all your debts,
resolve all quarrels with friends, catch up with homework!!!
Make some Banners with New Year's Greetings
Red and gold banners with New Year messages of good luck decorate the entrances of houses as well as business establishments.
And accordingly, you could decorate the entrance to your room, or put them up in the living room or near your main door.
Red and Gold are lucky colors for the Chinese, red symbolizes vitality of life and happiness, gold represents wealth and prosperity.
You can make your own Chinese New Year signs with bright red paper and markers or a brush if you prefer.
Here are some instructions to make your own New Year Banners including the "Lucky Characters" stroke by stroke.
And while we're at it, here are some more ideas of popular Chinese New Year decorations and ornaments as well as plants and flowers used widely during this time of the year.
Preparing Food and Putting Away the Knives
On New Year's Day, the families come together to celebrate and everything must be ready for this important fest.
Food must be prepared ahead of time, as one of the popular Chinese New Year superstitions dictates that all knives must be put away.
Using a knife during the first days of the New Year "cuts off" all the good luck for the coming year.
The New Year's feast takes many days to prepare and in addition, food for the next couple of weeks
has to be plentiful as there will be hoards of visiting relatives and friends.
Remember that food is very important to Chinese, but even more so, this is a time of abundance, lots of food signify prosperity for the coming year!
So what needs to be prepared? Here are some popular dishes that are traditionally present at the Chinese New Year meal.
The Chinese New Year Flower Markets and Fairs
The regular flower markets which on a normal day are buzzing with activity, really come to life a couple of weeks prior to Chinese New Year as
everyone prepares for the big day.
Everybody flocks to the markets to prepare gifts and decorate the house with the traditional "lucky plants". These
are some of the most popular bot as decorations for your own home or to bring as presents when visiting others:
- orange trees
- mandarin or kumquat trees
- lucky bamboos
- branches of cherry blossoms
- stalks of pussy willows
Nowadays the markets offer all sorts of merchandise well beyond plants and flowers for the house and people come out for the shopping as well as to enjoy the spirit of the holiday.
Paying respects to the Ancestors
The New Year Celebrations can only begin after paying respect to the ancestors.
On New Year's Eve, people will go to the temples and pray for good fortune for the new year.
They bring offerings of food and incense to please the spirits of the deceased so that they might bring good luck.
They come to ask for a special favor perhaps, or just
to appease the spirits if luck hasn't been that great lately.
People from all walks of life come to pay their respects, housewives, business tycoons, students, shop-keepers... you name it. It is
not unusual to find the temples even in the big modern cities like Hong Kong or Shanghai bustling with activity right around this time.
So now that all the preparations are done with, the long-awaited day arrives and the New Year's festivities can begin! There are many more
Chinese traditions observed during this joyful time of the year:
You can decorate easily with traditional or battery-operated lanterns, paper cuttings, lucky coins and banners to add a splash to the celebrations!
More Chinese New Year Traditions and Celebrations
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