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Chinese spring festival

Spring festival

Since 1912the Chinese people have celebrated New Year twice each year due to China’s use of both the lunar and solar calendars.

 

Lichun(立春)__the Beginning of the New Year.立春.jpg

  For the 3,000 years leading up to 1912, Chinese life was ordered solely according to the lunar calendar.

  In ancient times,agriculture was the economic mainstay of China and its people,and the purpose of establishing a calendar was to regulate agriculture production.Chinese ancients discovered,through astronomcal observation,that during the earth’s 12-month orbit around the sun,its changing position gave rise to periodical changes in climate and thus distinctive farming seasons.They subsequently designated 24 positing within the earth’s orbit,calling them the 24jieqi(solar terms).Each jieqi was given a name that signified the related meteoological and phenological changes on the earth.For example,Lichun means “the beginning of spring”,Jingzhe means “the awakening of insects”,and Guyu means “the time to sow wheat”.Each of the 12lunar months encompassed two jieqi,which were regarded by the imperial counrt and farmers as the chronological yardstick through which to plan agricultural production.

  Some traditional Chinese folk customs and festivals also relate to the 24jieqi,such as Spring Festifal.It was first decided during the Han Dynasty that Lichun should be the time to celebrate Spring Festival.Later,after several rounds of reform,it was finally agreed that the first day of the first lunar month,which gennerally occurs around Lichun,should be Spring Festival.

  In ancient China,Spring Festival and New Year’s Day referred to the same day­-the first day of the first lunar month.After the 1911 Revolution,however,China formally adopted the Gregorian calendar and made January 1 New Year’s Day,as distinct form the traditinal lunar calendar Spring Festival as more significant,and as being the true beginning of a new year.

 

Hope for Peace and Abundant Harvests

  The whole year’s work depends on a good start in spring.Chinese people generally hope that a bountiful harvest,career promotion,peace generally hope that a bountiful harvest,career promotion,peace,health,and all thingd good will occur in the new year.They place all their wishes and hopes upon the successful start of a new year,and celebrate it by wearing their best clothes,eating sumptuous food,and indulging in all kinds of recreational activities.

  Anothough the Spring Festival formally starts from the first day of the first lunar month,preparation prior to the festival has already engendered a strong festival atmosphere.Taking into account the various celebratory activities that commence at the onset of the lunar new year,the Spring Festival lasts about a month.

 

The Prelude to the Spring Festival

  Although the Spring Festival formally starts from the first day of the first lunar month,preparation prior to the festival has already engendered a strong festival atmosphere.Taking into account the various celebratory activities that commence at the onset of the lunar new year,the Spring Festival lasts about a month.

  Preparations for the Spring Festival often begin as the 12th lunar month.Spring Festival shopping is no mean feat,as there is so much to buy:clothes,shoes,hats,firecrackers,couplets,incenses,sweets,fresh and dried fruits,meats and more.There is also plenty of manual work to be done,such as preparing meat,and making steamed buns and New Year puddings.According to custom,no meals,apart from dumplings,are cooked during the first couple of days of the Spring Festival,the fare being heated-up food that has been pr腊八.jpgepared prior to the festival.

  

Laba(腊八) Festival,the 8th day of the 12th lunar month,isregarded as the prelude to the Spring Festival,and Laba porridge is the main dish for that particular day.The porridge has at least eight ingredients,including rice,beans,jujube,and nuts,thus symbolizing a bumper grain harvest.On this day,people also pickle the and garlic to be consumed during the Spring Festival.

  It is from the Laba Festival that people begin to clean their houses,put up window paper-cuts and couplets.One popular folk belief is that durimg the 12th lunar month all the gods and spirits either as cend to heaven or descend to hell to report on the family activities over the past year.People take this opportunity to clean their houses,so the gods and spirits will not be disturbed or offended.The house cleaning is also carried out to create a neat and festival environment for the Spring Festival.

  Two other major activities that occur before the Spring Festival are offering sacrifices to the Kitchen God on the 23rd,and greeting the Jade Emperor on the 25th of the 12th lunar month.

  The Kitchen God is a household god.People offer him delectable dishes to encourage him to say good things about the family when he goes to heaven to make his report,thus securing the family good luck through the new year.

  The Jade Emperor is the head of all the gods worshipped b Chinese people.It was believed that he comes to inspect the secular world followed by all other gods in the 25th of the 12th lunar month,and that mortals should prepare offerings at their homes to greet the Jade Emperor.As he would have already eaten his fill of rich,epicurean delicacies,his only desire at the homes of the common folk would be to eat a bowl of red bean porridge.


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