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How My Family Celebrated Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is coming. In this post, I will talk about how my family celebrated Chinese New Year.

If you wish to learn some characters related to the Chinese New Year or sing the song, please read my post: Chinese Children’s Song: Happy New Year.

By the way, some other Asian countries and areas such as Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc. also celebrate this holiday.

Chinese New Year is also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. Some people even just call it directly based on the pronunciation of Chinese characters 春节: Chunjie.

The popularity of Chinese New Year is the historical influence of the power of ancient China during its peak time.

If you know China’s history well, you might know China was once a very powerful country.  Because of its power, many countries nearby started to adopt Chinese culture and tradition, even Chinese characters.

When I was little, Chinese New Year was a very important event in my family. During that time, we were poor, however, my parents always tried their best to have the best Chinese New Year holiday for us.

My parents stocked bags of traditional snacks such as rice cake (米糕) (mi3 gao1), peanuts (花生) (hua1 sheng1), candies (糖果) (tang2 guo3), sunflower seeds (葵瓜子) (kui2 gua1 zi3) etc.

At that time, there were no supermarkets, my parents made almost everything themselves.

My mom always did a thorough spring cleaning (大扫除) (da4 sao3 chu2) everywhere.

She invited my grandparents to our home to celebrate the holiday with us every year.

She prepared a lot of fresh vegetables and kinds of meats.

My dad was responsible for decorating the home with new New Year pictures (年画) (nian2 hua4).

The subjects of year pictures were usually flowers (花) (hua1), tigers, (老虎) (lao3 hu3), cranes (鹤) (he4), pine trees (松树) (song1 shu4) or mandarin ducks (鸳鸯) (yuan1 yang1), fishes (鱼) (yu2) with good luck meaning.

My dad was very good at Chinese calligraphy (书法) (shu1 fa3). Each year it was my dad’s job to write couplets.

In the early morning of the eve of the new year, my parents started to be busy with cooking.

They were very ambitious. They would cook about 20 dishes to make sure the whole dining table was occupied.

My mom would cook some traditional dishes. I remember one was egg dumplings (蛋饺) (dan4 jiao3).

We siblings had to help. The one who helped most would get the privilege to enjoy the first bite of the dish. It was not me.

We usually always missed the lunch on that day, so we would eat more on the dinner.

Finally, when it was getting dark and the dishes were ready, my dad lit the firecrackers (鞭炮) (bian1 pao4) and put the long string of red firecrackers outside of the window.

While the firecrackers made a loud sound, we started to enjoy the meal.

My mom always opened the window to make sure the smoke of firecrackers would come into the room. She also left the light on in every room for the whole night. My mom said the fireworks smoke and light would bring good luck.

When we enjoyed kinds of tasty dishes, one dish was always on the table every year. It was the fish dish.

Having a fish dish every year is a good wish. It means: 年年有鱼(余), and every year has the fish (extra). 鱼 and 余 have the same pronunciation: yu2.

After dinner, it was time to sit on the sofa ready to watch the new year TV show.

The TV show lasted hours until the time passed midnight. When the new year came, everyone started to say to each other: 新年快乐! (Happy New Year!)

The tradition of sitting up late on the last day of the year is called: 守夜 (shou3 ye4) or 守岁 (shou3 sui4).

There was a story behind this tradition. I will talk more about the Chinese New Year in my next post: Chinese New Year Traditions.

I wonder if you celebrate Chinese New Year or attend any local Chinese New Year events.

If you live in a big city with a Chinatown, you are lucky.

If you live in the suburbs, don’t worry. Some local Chinese schools, Chinese churches Asian associations, or even local libraries will hold Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year parties too.

Don’t be shy. Ask around. Celebrating Chinese New Year is a great opportunity to learn Chinese culture. It is such a joyous event. 新年快乐!

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