The festival is known by many names: Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, and Lunar New Year. It marks the passage of the harvest season and celebrates the coming spring.
Each new year is represented by one of twelve different animals of the Chinese zodiac. This coming year is the year of the Tiger.
Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes and ourselves! This symbolizes washing away anything bad from last year and starting fresh. We feast and celebrate with our families because Lunar New Year is about preparing for good luck in the coming year, and it is also about family and honouring our ancestors.
Many of the holiday’s traditions come from a very old tale. There is an ancient Chinese legend that tells of a monster named Nian, who had the head of a bull and the body of an ox. Once a year, Nian would come out of hiding and scare people
But the monster was afraid of three things: the loud crackling of burning bamboo (or firecrackers), the colour red, and the bright lights of lanterns.
Today, we light baozhu, and fireworks, and we hang red signs with blessings to keep Nian away.
Red sumbolizes good luck. We also display other things that represent luck, such as the Chinese character fu, elaborate knots, and paper cuttings with beautiful words or pictures.
The Lunar New Year celebrations last fifteen days. During the first days, we visit our friends and family, and we stay up all night enjoying the company of one another! We eat dumplings filled with all sorts of delicious meats and vegetables.
Because the dumplings are shaped like yuanbao, an ancient kind of money, we hope that they will bring weath and prosperity in the coming year.
Children also receive red envelopes with money from their parents, grandparents, and other family members, and friends. These are called hongbao.
On the fifteenth night, the full moon returns to the sky and we honor the end of Lunar New Year with the Lantern Festival. We celebrate with parades led by people dressed as dragons and lions. These animals bring us good fortune and luck.