Starts with the New Moon on the new years day and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-year cycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.
New Year celebration last 15 Days, during this period: Chinese families will eat vegetarian dish called "jai" because it is believed that this will ensure long and happy lives for them. At this time people will honour and respecting the Heaven, Earth and the gods of the household. the family ancestors and visiting temples to pray for prosperity and health. On the 15th day during the evening a lantern festival is held.
There are various superstitious aspects to certain foods. Such as:
Bamboo shoots - wishing that everything would be well
a whole fish or chicken - to symbolize togetherness, abundance and prosperity.
Noodles - should be uncut, as they represent long life.
Dried bean curd - represents fulfilment of wealth and happiness.
Fresh bean curd or tofu is not included as it is white and unlucky for New Year as the colour signifies death and misfortune.
In south China, the most typical dishes are "nian gao", sweet dumpling and steamed dumplings such as (glutinous rice wrapped up in reed leaves).
In the north, steamed-wheat bread (man tou) and Steam boat
There are certain things one should do prior to the New Year. Preparing enough food for the festival, popular colours for decorations: are gold, yellow, black, orange and red is the dominant one. On walls and doors are poetic happy wishes written on red paper. For instance, ‘Kung Hai Fat Choy', “Wish you happy and prosperous New Year” "May you enjoy continuous good health" "May the Star of Happiness, the Star of Wealth and the Star of Longevity shine on you"
Items like: brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment are put away. People will spring clean their houses and even your cars. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away. Sweeping floor should be swept in-ward to the centre of the room, do not sweeping the rubbish towards out-side, which means you are sweeping your wealth or good luck away, or even sweeping one of your family away. Buying new clothes, have a haircut before the New Year.
Everything and everyone looks new and fresh on the New Years day
These are set off as soon as the New Year arrives. You can hear and see firecrackers everywhere and this usually lasts for a few hours. Traditionally fireworks are lit for enjoyment, to get rid of the old and welcoming the new. Also to frighten bad spirits away, Firecrackers and Dragon or Lion Dance do Complementary each other, They are frequently performed during other occasions: such as birthday, anniversary and opening a new commercial businesses. This symbolised power, wisdom and good fortune, at the same time, getting rid of evil spirits and brings happiness, longevity and good luck.
During the Lion Dance routine –it movement enhance the 'life' of the lion, with the eyelids, mouth, ears of the Lion's head and tail all moving accordingly. The dance is accompanied by loud music played on large drum, gong and cymbals. The use of firecrackers, drums, gongs and cymbals are related to the role of the lion in dispelling evil and bringing good luck - evil being afraid of loud noise
The highlight of the Lion Dance is the Choi Cheng or 'Picking the Green'. A piece of vegetable is tied to a red packet attached containing money. Which is laid or hung above the door of the house or business, and the lion 'eats' both leaves and red packet..
Or "Hongbao" - it is simply a red envelope with money in it, which symbolizes luck and wealth. It is given to younger generation by their parents, grand parents, relatives, and even close neighbours and friends. Generally the one who is not married will qualified for one..
This is a popular decoration during this period which - symbolize lucky, rebirth and wealth.
Oranges and tangerines - Etiquette dictates that you must bring a bag of oranges and tangerines and enclose a lai see when visiting family or friends anytime during the two-week long Chinese New Year celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one's relationship with the other remains secure. For newlyweds, this represents the branching of the couple into a family with many children. Oranges and tangerines are symbols for lots of happiness
Red melon seed - symbolize joy, happiness, truth and sincerity
Lychee - strong family relationships.
Cumquat - prosperity (gold).
Coconut – togetherness.
Peanuts - long life
Lotus seed - many children
One should not mention any foul language, bad or unlucky words. Negative terms and the word such as "four" (Ssai), which sounds like the word for death, are not to be uttered. Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are not to be told.
On New Year's Day, we are not suppose to wash our hair because it would mean we would have washed away good luck for the New Year. Red clothing is preferred during this festive occasion. Red is considered a bright, happy colour, sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future. It is believed that appearance and attitude during New Year's sets the tone for the rest of the year. Do not use swords or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.