USHERING IN A NEW YEAR
A look at how the city and its residents prepared for the Spring Festival which started on Jan 28 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.