Chinese New Year:Preparations

For most westerners, the BIG New Year celebration has already passed. Not so for the Chinese and many other Asian countries that celebrate the lunar New Year (农历新年 Nónglì xīnnián), which falls on January 26th, 2009. Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié), and many mainland Chinese will almost always use this term.

In preparation for this holiday, many will clean their homes, signifying sweeping away the bad luck of the preceding year and making their homes ready for good luck. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese words, such as “good luck”(福 fú), and couplets (春联 chūnlián). Many will also purchase new clothing, shoes and get hair-cuts or new hairstyles to symbolize a fresh start.

Spring Festival Couplets (春联 chūnlián). Many households choose a pair of red couplets and place them on both sides of the front door.

In Northern China, many will prepare dumplings (饺子 jiǎozi), a symbol of wealth, for the big Chinese New Year’s Eve feast. In Southern China, New Year cake (年糕 niángāo) is made. Niangao literally means increasingly prosperous year in year out.

Dumplings (饺子 jiǎozi)

Chinese New Year cake (年糕 niángāo), made of glutinous rice flour.