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

Which Asian countries are the most innovative?

Singapore, South Korea and Japan are the most innovative countries in Asia. Singapore, South Korea and Japan are the most innovative countries in Asia whereas Pakistan and Bangladesh are the least innovative, according to the Global Innovation Index 2018 report. The report analyses the energy innovation landscape of the next decade and identifies possible breakthroughs in fields such as energy production, storage, distribution, and consumption. It also looks at how breakthrough innovation occurs at the grassroots level and describes how small-scale renewable systems are on the rise. South East Asia is at the third place globally in terms of innovation. Singapore leads the region with a high score in most of the indicators. Globally it has moved two positions up since last year. South Korea is also among the high income countries that has increased investment in innovation and is ranked second in


By Asia News Network
September 17, 2018

Curiosity

Why India’s Partition continues to haunt the Kashmir Valley

Pakistani writer Anam Zakaria travels through Pakistan-administered Kashmir to hear its people – their sufferings, hopes and aspirations. When the Indian subcontinent was partitioned more than 70 years ago, Jammu and Kashmir was split between India and newly created Pakistan. Both countries continue to administer parts of Kashmir, both claiming rights over the entire territory, both being haunted by the decades of violence that has consumed them. There have been demands in Indian-administered Kashmir, with a predominantly Muslim population, to either merge with Pakistan or to create an independent country. The demand has been rejected by the Indian government amid violence and the killing of around 70,000 people since


By Lamat R Hasan
September 13, 2018

Curiosity

Asean military spending not really about China: expert

Southeast Asian countries spent more than US$39 billion on defence in 2017. Although Southeast Asia countries are spending more on military defence equipment, it doesn’t mean they are increasing the risk of conflict in the region, according to Tim Huxley, Executive Director at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Speaking at a session on understanding Asia’s new balance of power, one of the activities as part of the 2018 World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hà Nội, Huxley revealed some surprising numbers on regional arms spending. In 2017, Southeast Asian countries spend more than US$39 billion on defence. According to Felix Heiduk from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, total defence spending of ASEAN states doubled over the last 15 years in absolute terms, with countries like Indonesia and Thailand witnessing military expenditure growth rates of 10 per cent y


By Viet Nam News
September 13, 2018

Curiosity

Asian families travel more than Western families

Believe it or not, but Asian travellers take twice as many family trips as their Western peers. Say what you want about Asian families not showing outright affection, when it comes to family vacation, Asian travellers take twice as many family trips as their Western peers. The Agoda Family Travel Trends 2018 survey found that over 34% travellers took more than five family trips in the past year. Asia dominates this multi-holiday trend with a remarkable 77% of travellers from Thailand and 62% from the Philippines, claiming to have taken five or more family breaks in the past year. Conversely, only 7% of British travellers took more than five family trips. Malaysians on average went on four family trips in the last year. The results show that 74% of Malaysian travellers have travelled with their core family in the past year. Malaysian travellers look forward to quality time with famil


By The Star
September 13, 2018

Curiosity

LGBTQ rights: Asia has a long way to go

In most Asian countries same-sex relations are illegal with varying degrees of tolerance, and we take a look at some. Last week, India’s top court decriminalised homosexuality with a prayer to the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community to forgive history for their “brutal” suppression. The LGBTQ community was outraged when the Supreme Court had reversed a landmark ruling that had decriminalised homosexual acts under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a 153-year-old colonial-era law.


By Lamat R Hasan
September 10, 2018

Curiosity

Battered by disasters, Japanese remain stoic as ever

Despite typhoons and earthquakes, regular citizens attempt to go about their everyday lives. Public transport services were halted citywide after major tremors shook 


By The Straits Times
September 10, 2018