Chinese New Year is considered one of the most important traditional holidays in China. Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. The festivities last for fifteen days between the first date of the lunar calendar and the fifteenth day, which is the Lantern Festival. Traditional celebrations include spending much time with family, eating delicious meals, and handing out red packets (li xi) with money to wish luck and fortune in the new year.
The celebrations fall on a different dates each year. The exact date of New Year’s Day this year is February 10, 2013. Even though the dates fall different during each lunar year, there are some activities that generally take place on each of the fifteen days, such as cleaning on the second day, making bean curd on the third day, and shopping on the fifth day. New Year’s Eve is February 9th this year, and is generally regarded as the most important and cheerful day prior to New Year’s Day.
Special foods prepared and consumed during Chinese New Year celebrations include lotus seed, ginko nut, black moss seaweed, dried bean burd, and bamboo shoots. Each of these items has a certain significance for celebrating the New Year. Lotus seed signifies having many male offspring. The ginkgo nut represents silver ingots, representing wealth or strong economy. The black moss seaweed also represents wealth, and is infact a homonym for exceeding wealth. The dried bean curd is another homonym for fulfillment of wealth and happiness. Finally, in Chinese, bamboo shoots is a term that sounds like “wishing that everything would be well.”