USHERING IN A NEW YEAR

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

A look at how the city and its res­i­dents pre­pared for the Spring Fes­ti­val which started on Jan 28 yu­ran@chinadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese New Year is the most im­por­tant fes­tive event of the year in China. Chi­nese may cel­e­brate this oc­ca­sion in slightly dif­fer­ent ways but their wishes are al­most the same — they want their fam­ily mem­bers and friends to be healthy and lucky through­out the year. 2017 is the year of the Rooster. The Spring Fes­ti­val falls on the first day of the first lu­nar month, of­ten one month later than the Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar. This year, Chi­nese New Year is on Jan 28.

The fes­ti­val is also called Guo Nian in Chi­nese. Guo means “pass over” and Nian refers to “year” as well as to an old story about a myth­i­cal beast that will bring bad luck.

Hav­ing orig­i­nated in the Shang Dy­nasty (1600-1046 BC), the fes­ti­val used to be ob­served as a fight against the mon­ster “Nian”, which ac­cord­ing to folk­lore, ate chil­dren and live­stock. The mon­ster was said to be afraid of

red and loud sounds and peo­ple hence dec­o­rated their houses with red fur­nish­ings and set off fire­crack­ers to ward against the mon­ster.

Chi­nese New Year, sim­i­lar to the Western hol­i­day of Christ­mas, is one of fam­ily re­union. Cel­e­bra­tions usu­ally last for half a month and in­cludes ac­tiv­i­ties like stock­ing up New Year’s treats, pre­par­ing the New Year’s Eve din­ner and set­ting off fire­crack­ers (this has now been out­lawed in most ur­ban ar­eas be­cause of mea­sures against the risk of fire and pol­lu­tion), giv­ing red pack­ets filled with money to chil­dren, ring­ing a bell to usher in the New Year bell and say­ing aus­pi­cious New Year greet­ings.

The lively at­mos­phere that can be ex­pected dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod not only fills the house­holds but the streets as well. A series of events such as lion dances, dragon lantern dances, lantern fes­ti­vals and tem­ple fairs will be held for days. The Spring Fes­ti­val then comes to an end when the Lantern Fes­ti­val con­cludes on the 15th day of the lu­nar cal­en­dar, which falls on Feb 11 this year.

PHOTOS BY GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

The rail­way sta­tions in Shang­hai are es­pe­cially crowded in the weeks be­fore the Spring Fes­ti­val as hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple make their way back to their home­towns to cel­e­brate the Chi­nese New Year.

A woman shops for Chi­nese New Year dec­o­ra­tions. It is a tra­di­tion for Chi­nese to dec­o­rate their homes with red or­na­ments and aus­pi­cious ban­ners dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod.

Dried food prod­ucts are in high de­mand dur­ing the Spring Fes­ti­val as fam­i­lies pre­pare to get to­gether and feast dur­ing the hol­i­days.

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