Chinese New Year (or generally referred to as Lunar New Year globally) is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China,[b] and is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia. Observances traditionally take place from the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February. In 2020, the first day of the Chinese New Year will be on Saturday, 25 January, initiating the Year of the Rat.
Chinese New Year is a major holiday in Greater China and has strongly influenced lunar new year celebrations of China's neighbouring cultures, including the Korean New Year (seol), the Tết of Vietnam, and the Losar of Tibet. It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Overseas Chinese populations, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Mauritius, as well as many in North America and Europe.
Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. The festival was traditionally a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely, and the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Another custom is the decoration of windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets. Popular themes among these paper-cuts and couplets include that of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. For the northern regions of China, dumplings are featured prominently in meals celebrating the festival. It often serves as the first meal of the year either at mid-night or as breakfast of the first day.
This is folklore said that there will come out like a beast called ‘Nian’ during the Spring Festival. The beast is seen once a year. This day is called ‘New Year’. And the day before New Year is called ‘New Year Eve’. According to the legend, the beast was very ferocious as it went to the house to eat people in the midnight. In order to avoid the beast, Yanhuang reunited the people together and sat around to resist the beast. As the beast appear once a year, Yanhuang discovered that the beast was afraid of red, fire and loud noise. Therefore every household posted red couplet at the door, ignited a bonfire outside the home, and fired the firecrackers. When the beast saw those red things outside every household, they would drive away.
There is also a say that the beast is ‘Xi’ rather than ‘Nian’. The Spring Festival included New Year’s Eve and New Year. ‘Xi’ is a kind of faint monster, and ‘Nian’ is not related to the animal beasts in terms of meaning, it is more like a mature harvest. There is no record of the beast in the ancient texts, it is only folklore in China. The word "Nian" is composed of the words "he" and "Qian". It means that the grain is rich and the harvest is good. The farmers review the harvest at the end of the year and are also full of expectations for the coming year. According to Chinese historical documents, since the beginning of the era, people have celebrated the harvest in the New Year and welcomed the new folk customs. Later, they gradually became an established traditional festival.
“Spring Festival.” While Spring Festival has since become the official name of Chinese New Year, the Chinese outside mainland China still prefer calling it Lunar Year. “Chinese New Year” is a popular and convenient translation for people of non-Chinese cultural backgrounds. Along with the Han Chinese in and outside China, as many as 29 of the 55 ethnic minority groups in China also celebrate Chinese New Year. Six countries like Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia celebrate it as their official festival.
According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would eat villagers, especially children. One year, all the villagers decided to go hide from the beast. An old man appeared before the villagers went into hiding and said that he's going to stay the night, and decided to get revenge on the Nian. All the villagers thought he was insane. The old man put red papers up and set off firecrackers. The day after, the villagers came back to their town to see that nothing was destroyed. They assumed that the old man was a deity who came to save them. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red and loud noises. When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. After that, Nian retreated to a nearby mountain. The name of the mountain has long been lost over the years.
Chinese New Year is observed as a public holiday in some countries and territories where there is a sizable Chinese and Korean population. Since Chinese New Year falls on different dates on the Gregorian calendar every year on different days of the week, some of these governments opt to shift working days in order to accommodate a longer public holiday. In some countries, a statutory holiday is added on the following work day when the New Year falls on a weekend, as in the case of 2013, where the New Year's Eve (9 February) falls on Saturday and the New Year's Day (10 February) on Sunday. Depending on the country, the holiday may be termed differently; common names are "Chinese New Year", "Lunar New Year", "New Year Festival", and "Spring Festival".
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