Guest Post: The Chinese New Year

Today’s post is from Josianne Fitzgerald. Josianne is an
elementary school librarian at an international school in Tianjin, a city about
an hour away from Beijing. She is originally from Venezuela and is married to
an American. She and her family have lived in Tianjin for 12 years, and this is
their favorite part of the year. “There’s excitement in the air, as families
prepare to bid farewell to the old lunar year and bring in the new one.” 


The Chinese
New Year

by Josianne Fitzgerald

Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, is
celebrated in China and by Chinese people all around the world. The date for
Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar and so it changes every year. In
2013, Chinese New Year will fall on February 10 on the second new moon of the
year. Spring Festival is the most important holiday in Chinese culture and it
celebrates family ties as well as the end of winter and the beginning of

To prepare for the Spring Festival, families clean
their houses, decorate their doors and windows with lucky fu papers or paper
cuts, buy new clothes and give gifts of fruit or tea to friends and

About a week before Chinese New Year is the day to send
off the Kitchen God. Every family has a kitchen god to watch over them. He
watches over the family and his wife tallies the family’s behavior. Each year
the Kitchen God makes a pilgrimage to the Jade Emperor to submit a report.
Families will sweeten the Kitchen God’s report by smearing his lips with

The Spring Festival lasts for two weeks, starting with
the New Year and ending with the Lantern Festival. Each day of the festival has
its own activities. Families spend the eve together, making dumplings, eating
auspicious foods and setting off fireworks. The first full day of the Spring
Festival is spent with the paternal grandparents and the second day with the
maternal grandparents. The fifth day of the festival is also an important date
marked with more fireworks. The Lantern Festival is held on the 15th night and
brings families together again to stroll the streets carrying red paper

My favorite part of Chinese New Year are the fireworks.
Traditionally, these have been set off at the Spring Festival to ward off evil
spirits. Nowadays, they have been banned or heavily regulated in many Chinese
cities, but happily, in Tianjin where we live they are still allowed. Stalls
set up about two weeks before the new year’s eve and will stay open until late
at night all through out the festival.  The noise at midnight in
Tianjin is indescribable with millions and millions of rockets bursting into
the air to chase off the old year. In the morning, there’s red paper flakes
everywhere and the smell of cordite hangs in the air. Rockets and firecrackers
will start again in the early afternoon and they don’t really stop until the
day after Spring Festival when people must get back to work. 

Here is a calendar explaining each day in the
Spring Festival. It was written two years ago to mark the start of the Year of
the Dragon, but the order of the days remains the same for this, the Year of
the Horse. 


nián kuài lè!

Happy Chinese New Year!



New Year Portable Collections Program
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

for Spring Festival
. China
Festival Tours.

Greetings and
Phrases for the Chinese New Year


Click here for
Josianne’s list of books for Chinese New Year.


Thanks, Josianne!


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