History of the Chinese Spring Festival
The Chinese Spring Festival (in the west known as Chinese New Year), started in 2009 on January 26, that means on the 25th all day and night a lot of really great fireworks, you will see the fireworks stands appear two weeks in advance and although there still seems to be a ban on fireworks you can hear all go off regularly.
We live in a really nice location to watch it all, in a complete Chinese district on a high floor of the Sunshine Plaza apartment complex with a view over most of Beijing, and below us a large park and residential area where the Chinese social life takes place, people cooked outside on the street or are in the park to play games with each other talk or just to relax or dance.
It is the biggest festival in China, and all the trees along the roads are gaily lit, and parks filled with hanging lanterns in the trees, all the restaurants and hotels, buildings, bridges, viaducts, are lavishly illuminated and on the houses are many ornaments hanging, the famous lucky charms like the fish and the nodes and of course the Cows in all sizes, the year that comes is the year of the Cow (OX).
Origin of the Chinese Spring Festival
For the Chinese is the Spring Festival the first traditional holiday of the year, in the past called the “New Year” because of the lunar calendar, which has been in use for a long time, assuming this is the first calendar day of the first lunar month ,at the beginning of a new year.
The celebration of the Spring Festival has a history of more than 4000 years, and was established under the Emperor Yao.
One day around 2000 BC Emperor Yao ascended the throne, and taught his staff and servants to pray for heaven and earth, since that time people began to see that day as the beginning of the year, and have set that day as the first day of the first lunar month.
After the 1911 revolution, China has introduced the Gregorian calendar and the lunar New Year changed to “Spring Festival” that based on the Gregorian calendar falls in the period from late January to mid-February.
The night before the Spring Festival is called Chuxi either New Year’s Eve. This is a very important moment for the family, each family comes together over a great New Year Dinner, and many people continue on to the old year to go see the New Year, starting the next day to visit family and friends and bring best wishes for the new year across.
During the Festival the most popular activities are Lions and Dragon dances, boat races, and shall walk.
Legend of the Nian Beast
Nian means year. The legend is that once a hideous horned beast called “Nian” existed throughout the year living deep in the ocean but on New Year’s Eve came up to eat cows and people from a local village, so all people with their elderly and children flight deep into the mountains, then one New Year’s Eve there is an old man brooding in his health walk into the village asking some food from an old woman who lived in the eastern part of the village, he spend the night in her house despite the warning of the danger, at midnight the ‘beast’ comes to the village.
When the ‘beast’ enters the village it found a different atmosphere, the home of the old woman was surrounded with lights and there was red paper around the doorposts pasted, the beast jumped with a loud roar forward but then stopped and shuddered as he unexpectedly heard the noise and saw the flashes of the fireworks from the garden of the house, but he had the greatest fear for the red color of fire and explosions, at that moment the old man came out through the door in a bright red jacket , loud laughing, the beast was so scared that it ran away in panic and never came back.
Therefore, we see still the habit of paste red paper along all doorposts and fake fireworks crackers hanging on every building, home and family, who are burning candles and stay up all night.
Very important is eating Jiaozi, dumplings, in the west perhaps better known as dim sum, this habit comes from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the Jiaozi should be prepared before 12 midnight and at the time the clock refers 12 hours to be put on the table.