Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Celebrating the New Year

Since China goes by the Lunar calendar the New Year is not on the same day as we celebrate it (nor is it likely to be on the same day ever). This year we are bringing in the Year of the Rabbit on February 3. The New Year or 春节 (ChunJie), literally translated "Spring Festival" is similar to America's Christmas. It is probably the most celebrated holiday by everyone in China and is probably the most important holiday to spend with your family. People usually return to their hometown to be with their families. Presents aren't exchanged as we do at Christmas time but instead the older members of the family give red envelopes filled with money to the young children.
On New Year's eve everyone gets together and 包饺子 (baojiaozi - wrap dumplings). Jiaozi, or dumplings are made with ground beef or pork and some chopped vegetables then wrapped with a small flour wrap. Usually there are a few coins put in several of them (whoever gets those will have fortune in the new year, and they are usually required to sing a song for fun during the meal).

The Chinese are very famous for their amazing paper cuts . . . my daughter is trying her hand at it. She LOVES arts & crafts and did several paper cuts. This year is the year of the Rabbit, so she cut out a couple of Rabbits (unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the finished products).

During the New Year you will also see signs hung with the character 福 (Fu) on it which means blessing.
Here my friend and my husband & daughter are practicing their calligraphy. One of my daughter's favorite things to do is paint, she practiced her characters for over an hour! I think she is actually pretty good, maybe even better than her daddy. ;-)

When celebrating the New Year you can't forget the fireworks! There are so many fireworks set off on New Years Eve that the car alarms join in with the noise. It really sounds like you are in the middle of a war, especially when you live in an apartment complex where the sound bounces between the buildings.
Every year I learn something new about celebrating this holiday. This year my husband was reading a book to my daughter and we learned that on New Year's eve you don't go to sleep for fear of having a bad dream. If you have a bad dream it is a sign of bad things to come, so to avoid the bad omen people will just avoid sleeping all together, at least until the sun comes up the next day. Probably another reason why they shoot fireworks off all night, so you CAN'T sleep. (But I have to say my children who have grown up here and being here 7 years myself I have learned to sleep through all the noise.)