Festivities Schedule of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a traditional festival with a long history. It is the most important holiday for Chinese people, thus much attention has been paid to it since ancient times. Its preparation starts seven days before Chinese New Year’s Eve, from the twenty-third day of the twelfth lunar month.

The following shows you the schedule for the interesting festivities and customs during the festival. The dates are listed according to lunar calendar.

Dec. 23rd (Jan. 28, 2019)

In Chinese traditional culture, the Kitchen God will report to the Jade Emperor about the daily affairs of each family. Based on the report, the Jade Emperor will decide whether or not to reward this family. People will sacrifice candy, water, beans to the Kitchen God to flatter him, so that he can report good things about the family. As a result, the Jade Emperor may not punish the family, which can live safe and sound during the next year. On the Festival's Eve, the Kitchen God will go back to the human’s world, so he will get a warm welcome from human beings. After this sacrifice on this day, the ancestors will be worshipped by the whole family, and the sacrifice remains in place till December 30.

Dec. 24th (Jan. 29, 2019)

Cleaning is done on this day. All vessels, curtains, beddings and every corner need to be cleaned, and people hope to welcome the festival in a clean environment. In Chinese, cleaning the dust means driving away the old things.

Making Bean Curd
Making Bean Curd

Dec. 25th (Jan. 30, 2019)

In some places, bean curd will be made on this day. It is said that the Jade Emperor will come to inspect the human world to check whether the report from the Kitchen God is true. In order to testify that what the Kitchen God said is true, people eat cheap bean curd to show the Jade Emperor that they are thrifty and they live a poor life. Thus they can avoid punishment from the Jade Emperor. 

Dec. 26th (Jan. 31, 2019)

In ancient China, most of the common people lived a poor life and could only eat pork during this festival. So on this day, butchering pigs fed by every family or purchasing pork was the most main activity; as a result, they could reserve the pork for the festival. Although modern people can eat meat in daily life, people still like to buy meat on this day to keep to the tradition.

New Year Shopping
Shopping the Festival

Dec. 27th (Feb. 1, 2019)

Shopping is the most important activity on this day. People will purchase fireworks, couplets, toys and so on. They also buy new clothes for the next year. In the folk custom, people will also have baths and wash all the clothes in the hope, of removing the bad luck from the previous year.

Dec. 28th (Feb. 2, 2019)

Making steamed breads and pasting the paper-cuts are done on this day. People will prepare the food for all the days from the starting of Chinese New Year (Jan. 1 according to lunar calendar) to Lantern Festival (Jan. 15), for in old times, nothing could be bought during that period. Also on this day, people will decorate the rooms by pasting paper-cuts on the windows.

Although now the supermarkets or shopping centers are still open and people can easily purchase anything during the holiday, it is still a habit for people to prepare various kinds of food before the festival, especially in the rural areas.

Dec. 29th (Feb. 3, 2019)

On this day, people will worship ancestors at their tombs.

Dec. 30th (Feb. 4, 2019 - New Year’s Eve)

Spring Festival Couplets
Spring Festival Couplets

This is the most important and cheerful day. People will paste the Spring Festival Couplets, Gods of Gates and Chinese New Year pictures. Even though, modern people seldom do these things in time order as ancient people did, they still keep the custom of pasting the couplets. When all couplets are pasted, the festive atmosphere will be filled in every corner in China.

Reunion Dinner, Chinese New Year TV gala and staying up all night on its Eve are also traditional customs. Similar to the Christmas Dinner in western countries, the Reunion Dinner has significant meaning to Chinese people, because it is the time that all family members reunite together. With the reunion dinner, the whole family welcomes a lunar new year happily. The most important food in this dinner is the dumpling, which is very popular in the northern part of the country. Niangao and rice dumplings are eaten by people in southern part of the country. Besides, various Chinese New Year foods are served on that night such as fish, spring rolls and so on.

After the dinner, it is the happiest time for the younger generations, because they can get red envelopes from the older generations. At midnight, many places will strike bells to pray for the next smooth year, and people will set off fireworks.

Jan. 1st of Chinese New Year (Feb. 5, 2019)

Setting off firecrackers to chase off bad spirits is the first thing to do after people get up on the first day. After the firecrackers, it is time for the first meal of the year, which is as important as the reunion dinner for most Chinese people. Most people choose to eat dumplings, in hope of making fortune in the future, because the shape of the dumpling is similar to the gold ingots used as currency in ancient time. People in Fujian prefer to eat noodles, because the noodle is the symbol of longevity in local culture.

The first day is also a time to pay a New Year’s visit as well as send blessing to the senior members of extended families and other relatives. Now the methods of sending blessing are changing and many modern methods are used such as text messages and e-mails, as well as phone calls.

Jan. 2nd (Feb. 6, 2019)

People will worship the God of Wealth on this day. It is also the time for married daughters to visit their birth parents and relatives, because in daily life in ancient China they could not go back to their birth families. Even though daughters now can go to visit their birth parents at any time, this custom remains.

Jan. 3rd (Feb. 7, 2019)

This day is also called Goat Day, on which people cannot kill the sheep or goats. In southern China, people think quarrels can easily happen, so they do not visit each other on this day.

Jan. 5th (Feb. 9, 2019)

This day is also called Po Wu, on which people will eat dumplings and set off firecrackers.

Jan. 7th  (Feb. 11, 2019)

In Chinese mythology mankind was created on this day, so this day is the birthday of humanity. On this day, people will use seven kinds of vegetables and rice to make porridge in celebrating their birthday.

Shehuo Parade
Citywall Lantern Show
Xian City Wall Lantern Show

Jan 15th (Feb. 19, 2019)

The fifteenth day, also referred to Lantern Festival, is the end of the Spring Festival activities and all things are back to normal after that day. It is also the first full moon day after the grand event. On this day, people will go to enjoy different shapes of lanterns and guess lantern riddles.

In some areas in northern part of the country, Shehuo is another activity which can be seen and it attracts many people to participate and enjoy. This is a costume parade which includes different kinds of performance such as lion dance, yangko (a popular rural folk dance), land boat shows and so on. The parade is warmly welcomed by the local people.

Rice dumplings, sweet glutinous rice balls, are eaten on this day. The rice dumpling, traced back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279), has a meaning of reunion in Chinese custom and belief.

 Further Reading:
When is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year Gift Ideas
10 Traditions You Don't Know
Presnet-day Chinese New Year - Modern Activities

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