(A 15-day celebration starting February 14)
“Red couplets and red lanterns are displayed on the doorframes and light up the atmosphere. The air is filled with strong Chinese emotions. In stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, and other cities, products of traditional Chinese style have started to lead fashion trend[s]. Buy yourself a Chinese-style coat, get your kids tiger-head hats and shoes, and decorate your home with some beautiful red Chinese knots, then you will have an authentic Chinese-style Spring Festival.”
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays.
On the days before the New Year celebration Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. Chinese people believe the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and make their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dustpans are put away on the first day so that luck cannot be swept away. Purchasing new clothing, shoes, and receiving a hair-cut also symbolize a fresh start.
In many households where Buddhism or Taoism is prevalent, home altars and statues are cleaned thoroughly, and altars that were adorned with decorations from the previous year are also taken down and burned a week before the New Year starts, and replaced with new decorations.
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before. For Buddhists, the first day is also the birthday of Maitreya Bodhisattva (better known as the more familiar Budai Luohan), the Buddha-to-be. People also abstain from killing animals.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.
And maybe it is a good day for everyone to think about their own parents and grandparents and spend some special time with those who brought us into this world.