春节风俗（Spring Festival Customs）
The most important festival of the year in China is the Spring Festival, which starts from December 8th on the lunar calendar and lasts until January 15th. There are many customs people observe during the festival.
扫尘 Sweeping the Dust
“Dust” is homophonic with “chen”（尘）in Chinese, which means old and past. In this way, “sweeping the dust” before the Spring Festival means a thorough cleaning of houses to sweep away bad luck in the past year. This custom shows a good wish of putting away old things to welcome a new life. In a word, just before the Spring Festival comes, every household will give a thorough cleaning to bid farewell to the old year and usher in the new.
贴春联 Pasting Spring Couplets
贴窗花和“福”字 Pasting Paper-cuts and “Up-sided Fu”
守岁 Staying Up Late on New Year's Eve
The tradition of staying up late to see New Year in originated from an interesting folk tale. In ancient China there lived a monster named Year, who was very ferocious. Year always went out from its burrow on New Year’s Eve to devour people. Therefore, on every New Year’s Eve, every household would have supper together. After dinner, no one dared go to sleep and all the family members would sit together, chatting and emboldening each other. Gradually the habit of staying up late on New Year’s Eve is formed. Thus in China, “celebrating the Spring Festival” is also called “passing over the year (guo nian)”. However, now there are less and less people in cities who will stay up late to see New Year in.
贴年画 Pasting New Year Prints
吃饺子 Having Jiaozi
看春节联欢晚会 The CCTV New Year's Gala
The New Year’s Gala is a variety show held by China Central Television (CCTV) since 1983. For every year since then at the turn of the Lunar New Year, the program begins at 8:00PM and lasts five or six hours. It brings laughter to billions of people, creates many popular words and produces lots of TV phenomena meriting attention. For over twenty years, its value has gone far beyond a variety show. It is essential entertainment for the Chinese both at home and abroad. Many Chinese would like to watch the gala while having the dinner on New Year’s Eve.
放鞭炮 Setting off Firecrackers
The firecracker is a unique product in China. In ancient China, the sound of burning bamboo tubes was used to scare away wild animals and evil spirits. With the invention of the gunpowder, “firecracker” is also called “鞭炮biānpào” (“炮” in Chinese means gun) and used to foster a joyful atmosphere. The first thing every Chinese household does is to set off firecrackers and fireworks, which are meant to bid farewell to the old year and usher in the new. In the past few years, such an activity was completely or partially forbidden in big cities including Beijing due to fire and personal casualty caused by burning firecrackers. However, some Chinese thought that a Spring Festival without firecrackers was not lively enough and they burned firecrackers by stealth. So in recent years, the ban was canceled again. This shows that burning firecrackers is a very important activity during the Spring Festival.
拜年和压岁钱 New Year's Visit and Gift Money
On the first day of the Chinese lunar year, everybody puts on their best clothes and pays ceremonial calls on their relatives and friends, wishing them all the luck in the coming year. Juniors will greet seniors, wishing them health and longevity, while seniors will give juniors some gift money as a wish for their safety in the coming year. When friends meet, they will wish each other happiness and prosperity with a big smile. With the development of the new technology, there is a change on the way of giving New Years greetings. In recent year, it is common to send New Years greetings by such modern means of communication as telephones, emails and text messages.
逛庙会 Temple Fair