The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival has been celebrated for more than 4,000 years. It is a many-day holiday lasting from the first of the Lunar Calendar until the 15th of the first month. This year it begins on February 12 and ends on February 26th. This year, its the Year of the Ox.

Overseas in China, merchants don’t do business for the first five days of the festival. Some don’t sell until the end so the populace has to prepare by picking up the items they’ll need to celebrate with in advance.

Foods of the festival tend to be preserved, often by salting or curing meats.
The festival works in stages, beginning with the Laba Festival which celebrates the beginning of Spring. Prayers for a successful harvest and good fortune are common and foods are simple and the mood is one of gratefulness.

The Spring Festival begins and each day has its theme and activities.

In 2021, February 11 was New Year’s Eve. An important meal, the reunion dinner consisting of everyone’s favorite foods and specialties is eaten. Children receive their red envelopes and the family stays up till the New Year.

On February 12, Spring Festival begins in earnest as the day begins with firecrackers. Greetings and blessings between neighbors are exchanged. Predictions are made of the future based on weather, stars, and moon. Leftovers from last night’s celebration are enjoyed with wine added. One must not use a broom this day lest good fortune be swept away.

On February 13, a married daughter must bring her family home to her parents. In the spirit of “its the thought that counts,” she’ll also bring crackers and candies for her mother to divide between neighbors. By doing this, the daughter shows that she misses her hometown. After lunch, the family returns home before dinner.

February 14 is the Day of the Rat, the day rats marry. Grains and crackers are left in corners for rodents. The family goes to be early so the rats feast in peace and carry on their weddings. Tradition has it that the rats will leave the family alone during the year in return.

Each day has a specific meaning, tradition, and events until the final day, The Lantern Festival when lanterns are created. Riddles are written on the lantern papers as part of a game. The moon is full on that night and gazing at the moon while surrounded by lanterns is a good way to celebrate the evening. Snacks of boiled, steamed, or fried dessert rice balls are eaten. Some people believe that lighting lanterns will give them a chance of increasing the family.

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Johanna Siebert