See More on Facebook

Curiosity

Background: Chinese New Years

With Chinese New Year fast approaching, preparations for China’s most important annual festival are in full swing across the country.


Written by

Updated: February 16, 2018

A nation-wide scramble to reunite with family members is already well underway, with millions of people hopping on planes, trains and cars to make long journeys back to their hometowns.

Known in Mandarin as chunyun, the travel rush is an annual occurrence in China.

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, falls on February 16, marking the start of the year of the dog. The 15-day celebration is a time of reunion. Central to the festivities is the reunion dinner, which takes place on the eve of Chinese New Year, an event many Chinese are willing to travel vast distances to attend.

Between Feb 1 and March 12, more than three billion trips are expected to be made as a tide of students and workers leave the country’s major cities for the cities and villages their families call home, according to CGTN. With hundreds of millions of travellers, it is the world’s largest annual human migration.

Aside from the hustle and bustle of travellers heading home, neighbourhoods, decorated with red lanterns, also reflect the festive mood.

Many houses, too, will be readied for the celebration. Festive pictures will be placed on the walls, and couplets will be pasted on either side of the front door.

Comprising two complimentary lines of poetry adhering to certain rules, the couplets are one of the most common and important traditions, according to China Daily.

They are no longer restricted to the Chinese language either, with English language couplets gaining popularity among young Chinese people.

On China’s biggest consumer online shopping platform Taobao, dozens of shops are selling English couplets, China Daily reported.

“Most of our buyers are young people who want to look cool and are willing to pay extra for fashionable things,” Beijing shop owner Yu Runrun told China Daily, adding that some send the couplets to foreign friends as gifts.

“Foreigners in China also buy the English couplets to celebrate the festival,” Yu said.

Festive Foods

No festival is complete without the food and Chinese New Year is no exception, with a whole host of symbolic meals and snacks to enjoy.

Dumplings are likely to be on the menu in Northern households. With a shape similar to that of a gold ingot in ancient China, eating dumplings is supposed to symbolise a wish for treasure and good fortune, China Daily reports.

Rice cakes are another festival favourite. Gold and white rice cakes represent gold and silver, while gao, the Chinese character for cake, sounds the same as another character meaning growth, improvement or greater accomplishment, according to China Daily.

Long noodles symbolise the string of life and longevity, as well as wealth due to their resemblance of the strings strings holding copper coins together in ancient China.

The humble soybean sprout is an important food at family reunion banquets in Shanghai and East China’s Jiangsu province, symbolising growth and promotion, according to China Daily.

Fish and chicken are also two must-haves, symbolising happiness and good fortune.

Preparations and Celebrations

With a history spanning thousands of years, the festival has spawned many traditions, which vary from region to region.

Common traditions include visiting family and friends and giving out red envelopes, or hongbao, which contain money and are considered lucky. People may also catch popular traditional performances such as Lion and Dragon dances.

Setting off fire crackers and fireworks is an important part of Chinese New Year celebrations, but their use has been banned and restricted in many major cities due to concerns about safety and pollution.

For those hoping to experience the local culture, a visit to one of Beijing’s many temple fairs is the perfect way to enjoy performances, traditional arts and crafts and sample some local food. These typically open on the first day of the lunar new year and continue until the lantern festival, according to China Highlights.

One of many temple fairs in Beijing, the Ditan Temple Fair will thrill crowds with re-enactments of the traditional Qing Dynasty ceremony to worship the God of Earth, a folk flower fair, Hebei acrobatics and more, the China daily reported.

Foodies will not be disappointed, with snacks from all around China available at the fair, including Tianjin fried dough twist and Shandong pancake.

The Longtan Temple Fair has some interesting entertainment lined up with its 30,000-square meter ice and snow theme park. There, visitors will get to ride ice bicycles and participate in other activities, reported China Daily.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity

Woman accused of blasphemy freed in Pakistan

Asia Bibi was initially found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. After her release from Multan’s women prison in the light of the Oct 31 Supreme Court verdict overturning her conviction and death sentence, Asia Bibi was brought to Islamabad on board a special aircraft on Wednesday night, reliable sources told Dawn Newspaper. The aircraft carrying Aasia Bibi, whose acquittal of blasphemy charge sparked countrywide protests by religious parties and groups, landed at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport of Islamabad adjacent to Nur Khan Air Base. Soon after her landing, she was taken to an undisclosed place in Islamabad amid tight security. The authorities were keeping her movement and whereabouts secret for security reasons. Authorities concerned were also tight-lipped about her future plan and it was unclear if she would be kept in Islamabad or would be allowed to fly out of the


By Dawn
November 8, 2018

Curiosity

When Hollywood came calling to Bangladesh

An enchanting tale of opportunity and the silver screen in Bangladesh. This fascinating story needs retelling, particularly for the younger generations in Bangladesh, who would take pride in knowing that a fairly sizable portion of one of the most successful, Academy Award (Oscar) winning, block-buster epic movies of Hollywood of the 1950s, “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956), was filmed at selected locations of Sreemangal, in Sylhet and Barabkunda, in Chittagong. And that, in those immensely difficult days of road communication and a host of other logistical problems, an indefatigable gentleman from Dhaka, G M M E Karim, rose to the occasion and volunteered his fulltime services to render shooting of the film possible on schedule. A hugely resourceful and multifaceted personality, Karim, besides being an accomplished professional, was also a big game hunter in his younger days—he had shot his first full grown


By Daily Star
November 7, 2018

Curiosity

Imran Khan delivers warning to religious groups

Pakistan premier Imran Khan warns off religious group after supreme court rules on high profile blasphemy case. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday issued a stark warning to religiopolitical groups that have been agitating against the Supreme Court verdict to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of committing blasphemy. The premier addressed the matter in a short video message that solely focused on the Asia Bibi verdict and its aftermath. The message was broadcast on state-run PTV. He said he had been “compelled” to communicate with the nation due to the reaction given and language used by a “small segment” in response to the SC verdict. Pakistan was founded “in the name of Islam” and the verdict given by the SC is


By Dawn
November 1, 2018

Curiosity

Japan panel to call for creating IT watchdog

An expert panel will call for the government to set up a team of specialists to monitor the business practices of tech giants in its interim report to be released early next month. According to the draft of the interim report on measures to step up regulations on tech giants such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., the expert panel will also urge the government to consider obligating these firms to disclose important information, such as the terms and conditions of deals with their business partners. The government will make earnest efforts to tighten regulations on digital giants as similar moves have already been seen in Europe. The expert panel will release its interim report in early November before compiling the final version by the end of this year. Based on its proposals, the government will examine concrete measures from next year. In the draft of t


By The Japan News
October 29, 2018

Curiosity

Top Pakistan court reinstates ban on airing of Indian content on TV channels

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Saturday reinstated a ban on the transmission of Indian content on local television channels. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a case filed by the United Producers Association pertaining to the broadcast of foreign content on Pakistani television channels in the SC Karachi registry today. “They are trying to [obstruct the construction] of our dam and we cannot even ban their channels?” the top judge fumed as he ordered the broadcast of Indian shows to be “shut down” before adding that the authorities should “only air appropriate content”. In 2016, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had imposed a complete ban on airing Indian content on local television and FM radio channels.


By Dawn
October 29, 2018

Curiosity

Japanese journalist Yasuda freed 3 yrs after being kidnapped in Syria

The Japanese foreign ministry has confirmed that Yasuda has been released. Freelance journalist Junpei Yasuda, who was kidnapped soon after travelling to conflict-ridden Syria in 2015, was confirmed to have been released, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Wednesday. “We have confirmed the safety of Junpei Yasuda,” Kono told reporters at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo. “Staff at the Japanese Embassy in Turkey travelled [to an immigration facility in Antakya, southern Turkey] and are speaking with him,” the foreign minister said. “His health condition initially seems OK.” On Tuesday night, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government had been informed by the Qatari government that Yasuda had been released and was staying at an immigration facility in Antakya, near the border with Syria. Yasuda, 44, is said to have been held


By The Japan News
October 25, 2018