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Chinese New Year's Eve

Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the old year, is one of China's most important traditional holidays. Homes are spotless in and out, doors and windows are decorated with brand new Spring Festival couplets, New Year's pictures, hangings, and images of the Door God, and everyone dresses up in new holiday clothes that are decorated with lucky patterns and auspicious colors.


the monster - NianLegend has it that long ago during the age of great floods, there was a vicious monster named Nian, which means year. Whenever the thirtieth day of the last lunar month arrived, this monster would rise up out of the sea, killing people and wrecking havoc in their fields and gardens. The people would bar their doors before dark and sit up all night, coming out the next day to greet their neighbors and congratulate them on surviving. Once on the last night of the last month, Nian suddenly burst into a small village, devouring almost all the people who lived there. Only two families emerged unscathed. The first, a newlywed couple, avoided harm because their celebratory red wedding clothes resembled fire to the monster, so it did not dare to approach them. The other family was unharmed because their children were playing outside setting off noisy firecrackers, and the noise scared the monster away. Ever since, people have worn red clothes, set off firecrackers, and put up red decorations on New Year's Eve to keep the vicious monster Nian away. Later, according to the legend, the Emperor Star deity struck Nian down with a flaming orb and bound him to a stone column. Only then was there peace in the world. Ever since, people stay up all night and burn incense on New Year's Eve, entreating the Emperor Star to descend to earth and protect them.


To the Chinese, New Year's Eve dinner is more than just enjoying a grand feast. On this day, all Chinese all over the world, no matter how far away from home they are or how busy at work, will be home for dinner.New Year
The elaborate dinner is laden with auspicious food. The names of the dishes express the wish for good luck in the coming year. Most dishes are prepared with uncut or whole ingredients to ensure integrity and perfection. The use of knives is considered unlucky as this could sever the family's good fortune.
The sumptuous New Year dinners are prepared with the most delicate culinary artistic skill and good wishes to welcome relatives and friends with a choice of festive treats. Today, a growing number of Chinese choose to have reunion dinners at restaurants or invite cooks home to make dinners for them.


Making sacrifices to the ancestors is one of the most important folk customs of Spring Festival. Traditionally, households prepared for New Year's Eve by bringing their family's genealogical records, ancestral portraits, and memorial tablets to the ancestral hall, where the altar was prepared with incense and offerings. In some regions, offerings were prepared for the deities of Heaven and Earth as well as for the ancestors. In other areas, obeisance was made to the Jade Emperor (the highest deity in the folk pantheon), and the Queen Mother of the West (wife of the Jade Emperor). The offerings, known as 'offerings to Heaven and Earth,' consisted of mutton, five types of cooked dishes, five colors of snacks, five bowls of rice, two date cakes, and a large steamed wheat-flour bun. The rite was conducted by the head of the household. After burning three bundles of incense and bowing to the ancestors, prayers were offered for a fruitful harvest in the coming year. Finally, paper images of money were burned, the smoke carrying the household's prayers and salutations to Heaven. These Spring Festival rituals were a way of wishing the ancestors and deities a Happy New Year.

 

It was considered imperative to honor the ancestors during Spring Festival, both to remember previous generations and to ensure the continuation of the family line. However, regional differences produced widely differing traditions. In some places, the ancestors were honored before the New Year's Eve feast, while in others the ceremony was conducted at midnight on New Year's Eve. In yet other places offerings were made to the ancestors on New Year's morning, right before opening the door of the family courtyard. In Taiwan, the year's final offering to the ancestors was made in the afternoon of New Year's Day. In some regions, offerings were made to the ancestors at home on New Year's Day, after which the household would travel to the ancestral temple for further ceremonies. In some places, it was customary to conduct the ceremony at the ancestral graveyard, burning incense, making offerings, and bowing to the ancestors. Today, people usually pay their annual respects at the graves of their departed loved ones.

 

On New Year's Eve, the house is brightly lit as the whole family stays up all night to see out the old year and see in the new. People do more than just sit around as they wait for the arrival of the new year. There is plenty to eat and drink, including wine, cooked dishes, New Year's cake, boiled dumplings, fruit, and assorted snacks, and all kinds of games are played. Since it's nighttime, most of the games are played indoors. Popular games include Go, Chinese chess, card games, and mahjong. Before it gets dark, children ride bamboo horses, spin tops, and play games like 'Eagle Catches Chicken' and 'Blind Man's Bluff'. As midnight approaches, the parents prepare the family altar. They then light incense and make offerings to the ancestors and auspicious deities, bringing the New Year's festivities to their peak. After the ceremony is over, everyone exchanges New Year's greetings and eats boiled dumplings. It is also traditional to set off fireworks and firecrackers on New Year's Eve. As it gets closer and closer to midnight, nonstop explosions fills the air and the sky is filled with a sparkling display.

 

Since the 1980s, it has become extremely popular to watch the annual 'Spring Festival Variety Show' on television on New Year's Eve.

 

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