Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Post: The Chinese New Year

Josianne Fitzgerald is back with more great information about the Chinese New Year. Click here for her list of Chinese New Year Books.

The Chinese New Year

by Josianne Fitzgerald

photo_fireworks_saleChinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, is celebrated in China and by Chinese people all around the world. The date for Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar and so it changes every year. In 2013, Chinese New Year will fall on February 10 on the second new moon of the year. Spring Festival is the most important holiday in Chinese culture and it celebrates family ties as well as the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

I am an elementary school librarian at an international school in Tianjin, a city about an hour away from Beijing. I am originally from Venezuela and am married to an American. My family and I have lived here for 12 years, and this is our favorite part of the year. There's excitement in the air, as families prepare to bid farewell to the old lunar year and bring in the new one.

To prephoto_writing_fupare for the Spring Festival, families clean their houses, decorate their doors and windows with lucky fu papers or paper cuts, buy new clothes and give gifts of fruit or tea to friends and family.

About a week before Chinese New Year is the day to send off the Kitchen God. Every family has a kitchen god to watch over them. He watches over the family and his wife tallies the family's behavior. Each year the Kitchen God makes a pilgrimage to the Jade Emperor to submit a report. Families will sweeten the Kitchen God's report by smearing his lips with honey.

The Spring Festival lasts for two weeks, starting with the New Year and ending with the Lantern Festival. Each day of the festival has its own activities. Families spend the eve together, making dumplings, eating auspicious foods and setting off fireworks. The first full day of the Spring Festival is spent with the paternal grandparents and the second day with the maternal grandparents. The fifth day of the festival is also an important date marked with more fireworks. The Lantern Festival is held on the 15th night and brings families together again to stroll the streets carrying red paper lanterns.

My favorite part of Chinese New Year is the fireworks. Traditionally, these have been set off at the Spring Festival to ward off evil spirits. Nowadays, they have been banned or heavily regulated in many Chinese cities, but happily, in Tianjin where we live they are still allowed. Stalls set up about two weeks before the new year's eve and will stay open until late at night all through out the festival.  The noise at midnight in Tianjin is indescribable with millions and millions of rockets bursting into the air to chase off the old year. In the morning, there's red paper flakes everywhere and the smell of cordite hangs in the air. Rockets and firecrackers will start again in the early afternoon and they don't really stop until the day after Spring Festival when people must get back to work.

Here is a calendar explaining each day in the Spring Festival. It was written last year to mark the start of the Year of the Dragon, but the order of the days remains the same for this, the Year of the Snake.  A Day-by-Day Guide to Celebrating Chinese New Year

新年快乐   Xīn nián kuài lè! Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year Portable Collections Program. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum. 
Celebrations for Spring Festival. China Festival Tours. 

About Josianne
Josianne Fitzgerald is the elementary librarian at the International School of Tianjin.  She has been an international school teacher for 17 years. Originally, she and her husband thought to travel the world as international educators and taught in Venezuela, Egypt, and Lebanon before coming to China and falling in love with its culture and dynamism. They have been in Tianjin for 12 years and will remain for at least one more.

As a librarian, Josianne is committed to helping students inquire meaningfully into themes of their interest. Along with her students, she is learning to tap the rich resources of the Internet and is supremely happy to be living in the 21st century.

She blogs on library matters for her international school community at IST Library and Information Literacy Center. She tweets on library and information technology under the handle @fitziane.

Thanks Josianne! Looking forward to Friday's post about Chinese New Year Activities!

No comments:

Post a Comment