ASWWU logo

The Spring Festival

January 18, 2023
Austin Price

The Festival in Summary

Austin Price

The Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, and Spring Festival are all names of the same celebration, a celebration that has specific colors, special foods, family reunions, fireworks, and many more traditions to celebrate. A joyous feeling is present throughout the festival. The celebration has no set date but returns with the same vibrancy each new year.  

 Described by the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art:  

Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. It is the most important holiday in China, and it is also widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam, and countries with a significant overseas Chinese population. While the official dates encompassing the holiday vary by culture, those celebrating consider it the time of the year to reunite with immediate and extended family. 

Commonly known as the Spring Festival in China, Lunar New Year is a fifteen-day celebration marked by many traditions. At home, families decorate windows with red paper cuttings and adorn doors with couplets expressing auspicious wishes for the new year. Shopping for holiday sundries in open-air markets and cleaning the house are also beloved traditions. The Lunar New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is the highlight that kicks off the holiday, a feast with a spread of symbolic dishes, such as a whole fish representing abundance, that bring good luck and fortune. The fifteenth and final day of the holiday is the Lantern Festival during which people have tangyuan, or sweet glutinous rice balls, and children carry lanterns around the neighborhood at night to mark the end of the celebration. [1] 

A significant element of the festival is the Chinese zodiac sign – an annual sign that represents one animal of twelve with certain characteristics. For instance, the zodiac sign of 2022 was the Tiger, which has the characteristics of being brave, confident, competitive, and unpredictable. The twelve animals in the cycle are as follows: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. [2] 

Bill described 2023’s sign:  

This year, Chinese New Year falls on January 22, 2023, beginning the Year of the Rabbit. The Chinese zodiac sign of the Rabbit represents patience, peace, and prosperity among the Chinese so hopefully, 2023, the Year of the Water Rabbit will be a peaceful and auspicious year for everyone. Water represents money and auspiciousness so this should be a lucky year for those born under the sign of the Rabbit. [3] 

Important context for this “Water Rabbit” is that, along with having twelve different animals in the cycle of Chinese New Year, there are five different elements – water, wood, fire, earth, and metal – and a different one is associated with each new year.  

Color is important for this celebration. The main colors displayed are red and gold. From the beginning of the celebration to the end, there is constant color. The Lantern Festival, the concluding event, fills the streets with light. The festival is iconic in its vibrancy. “[The] Chinese holiday is characterized by red colors, red envelopes (hóngbāo), fireworks, parades, banquets, and brightly lit lanterns at night.” [4] 

One Chinese New Year tradition is to set off firecrackers on the eve of the festival. It opens the celebrations with an exuberant and positive feeling. Writer Amanda Xi explained, “In the myth about Nian, firecrackers are supposed to scare off monsters and bad luck. So, people stay up on Chinese New Year’s Eve and set off firecrackers at midnight.” [5]  

Chinese New Year is a festival filled with many important traditions, special food, family gatherings, historical remembrances, and many more lovely things that come from the celebration. New beginnings are hopeful times, and the Spring Festival celebrates a new spring with a passion that is unlike any other culture.  

 

References 

  1. National Museum of Asian Art. (2023) Lunar New Year celebration. Smithsonian Institution. https://asia.si.edu/lunar-new-year-celebration/  
  2. Zhao, Ruby. (2023, January 12). Chinese zodiac. China Highlights. https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/#personality  
  3. Bill. (2023, January 13). When is Chinese New Year 2023? The Works of Life. https://bit.ly/3GP85Cf  
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Xi, Amanda. (2023). 21 Things you didn’t know about Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year. https://chinesenewyear.net/21-things-you-didnt-know-about-chinese-new-year/#:~:text=5.,set%20off%20firecrackers%20at%20midnight 
menuchevron-upchevron-downmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram