Chinese New Year
Traditions and Superstitions
The Chinese New Year is the most important and elaborate holiday in Chinese culture, lasting two weeks -- from the first day of the full moon through the end of the full moon. Whether it's family gatherings or citywide celebrations, the New Year is a time rich in traditions and ancient superstitions.
Sweeping of the Grounds
Anticipation and preparation for the Chinese New Year begins well in advance. The 20th day of the Twelfth Moon is known as the Sweeping of the Grounds, a day during which homes are fastidiously cleaned and prepared for the New Year. Classical poems are written on large red scrolls and hung on the walls or gates to usher in good fortune for the family.
Farewell to the Kitchen God
Known as the Zaowang, the Kitchen God is considered the guardian of the family home. He is believed to reside in each home throughout the year, but returns to Heaven on the 23rd day of the last month of the year. He reports on the family's behavior, which determines their fate in the coming year. Eager for a good report, families traditionally bid Zaowang farewell before his journey with a dinner filled with sweet foods and honey -- to prevent him from being able to speak unsweet or unkind words about the family.
On New Year's Day, children wake up excited to receive their Lai-See Envelopes. This good luck money, wrapped in small red envelopes, is considered an omen of good fortune in the coming year. The entire first day of the New Year is spent together with close family members, and all young children receive their lai-see. Beginning on the second day of the New Year, people visit their friends and relatives, continuing to bring gifts to the adults and share red envelopes with the children.
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