China’s Spring Festival

BEIJING:The Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important traditional holidays for Chinese people, just likeChristmas in the west.The Spring Festival, which dates back thousands of years, falls on the first day of the first lunar month. The festival, which falls on Feb.3 this year, is an occasion for family reunions.Hundreds of millions people travel around the Spring Festival holiday, congesting transport systems as the world’s largest annual human migration takes place. People often go on shopping sprees to prepare for the week-long holiday.According to the lunar calendar, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.According to the Chinese zodiac, each year is represented by one of 12 different animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram,Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.The following are some Spring Festival traditions:Families clean their houses to sweep away bad luck. Many decorate their windows and doors with red color paper-cuts and happiness, wealth,good luck and longevity-themed couplets. People often have baths and haircuts to welcome the new year.Families offer sacrifices, light candles and burn incense and even paper money to pay their respects to the gods and their ancestors.A lavish family dinner is served on the eve of the Lunar New Year.Some stay up all night to cherish the year just past and welcome the new year.Families usually set off fireworks at midnight or early in the  morning. The fireworks were used to drive away devils – now they add to the  jubilant atmosphere.Early in the morning, children greet their parents, grandparents  and other elders by wishing them a happy new year. They often receive a red  envelope with money inside in return.Dumplings are typically eaten in northern China while sticky rice cakes are popular in the south – APP