Although Chinese New Year is a few weeks away, Chinese families are already busy preparing for the big celebration. Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is the most widely celebrated holiday in China- and a holiday this big requires a lot of preparation. For many families, preparation can begin a month ahead of time. The preparation is equally as rooted in tradition as the celebration itself and considered very important- so much so that there are step-by-step guides on how exactly to welcome the New Year. So these are the steps many Chinese families follow in the weeks and days ahead of the holiday, which this year is February 19th, to assure that their celebration goes smoothly and sets the stage for a great new year.
1. Visit a Fortune Teller
With the holiday comes a new year filled with either good luck or bad, so many people visit a fortune teller to see what the upcoming year has in store for them so they can properly prepare themselves.
2. Clean the house
This is a crucial component of preparing for the New Year. Many hours of cleaning are required to get the house ready for the holiday, believing that cleansing one's home sweeps away any bad fortune. Although cleaning is an important aspect of the New Year's traditions, it is only in the few weeks approaching the holiday where it is necessary- once New Years Eve has arrived it is critical that all cleaning comes to a halt, due to the belief that one the New Year has arrived any further cleaning will sweep away the incoming good fortune. Once the house is spotless, it is tradition to hang chunlian, or paper couplets, in the doorways to encourage good luck to enter the home.
3. Get a haircut
Not only do you want to start the year off with the right hairstyle, but cutting anything during the New Year celebration (even your hair!) is considered bad luck, so better get out and get it cut now!
4. Hit the shops
It’s important to go shopping to purchase all the necessary items to make New Year celebrations festive and special. The first items to check off on the list? The food of course! One of the biggest parts of the celebrations are the dishes families prepare for one another. One of the traditional foods you’ll see in many households on the night of New Years are dumplings. Other items to check off the list include new clothes and red envelops. The new clothes (preferably red) are to usher in the New Year and the red envelops are to hold the gift of money that it is custom to give loved ones on the day of the New Year. Once you have treated yourself, it is time to treat your friends and family! The red color of the envelops and clothes is important because red represents good luck, something everyone wants to attract during this time.
Participation in these cultural rituals will assure any celebrators a happy and luck-filled New Year this February 19th!