Basically in one statement you can say that the Chinese New Year is the second New Moon which comes after the winter solstice. Chinese New Year starts with the Second New Moon after the winter solstice and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is fêted at night with lamp displays and children carrying lanterns in a pageant.
The Chinese calendar is based on an amalgamation of lunar and solar movements. The lunar sequence is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese put in an extra month once every few years generally seven years out of a 19-yearcycle. This is the identical as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar almanac, the Chinese New Year falls on a dissimilar date each year.
New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family event, a time of get-together and blessing. The celebration was by tradition highlighted with a sacred ceremony given in respect of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the family unit and the family ancestors.
The sacrifice to the ancestors of the family, the most crucial of all the rituals, joins the living members with those who had passed away. Deceased relatives are remembered with great reverence because they were in charge for laying the basics for the fortune and glory of the family.
The attendance of the ancestors is accredited on New Year's Eve with a dinner prearranged for them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, jointly with the living, celebrate the arrival of the New Year as one great community. The collective feast called "surrounding the stove" or weilu. It symbolizes family synchronization and honors the past and present generations.
In all probability more food is had during the New Year celebrations than any other time of the year. A vast amount of traditional food is arranged for family and friends, as well as those close to us who have expired.
On New Year's Day, the Chinese family generally eats a vegetarian dish called jai. Even though the varieties of ingredients in jai are root vegetables or fibrous vegetables, many people give them superstitious aspects to them:
* Lotus seed - be a sign of having many male offspring
* Ginkgo nut - symbolize silver ingots
* Black moss seaweed - is a symbol for more in wealth
* Dried bean curd is another ingredient for achievement of wealth and happiness
* Bamboo shoots - is a phrase which sounds like "wishing that everything would be well"
* Fresh bean curd or tofu is not incorporated as it is white and ill-fated for New Year as the color signifies death and bad luck.
Other foods comprise a whole fish, to stand for togetherness and great quantity, and a chicken for affluence. The chicken must be offered with a head, tail and feet to stand for completeness. Noodles should be uncut, as they correspond to long life.
In south China, the much loved and most typical dishes were nian gao, sweet steamed glutinous rice pudding and zong zi (glutinous rice wrapped up in reed leaves), an extra popular treat.
In the north, steamed-wheat bread (man tou) and small meat dumplings were the chosen food. The remarkable amount of food organized at this time was intended to symbolize profusion and wealth for the household.
Prior to New Year's Day, Chinese families bedeck their living rooms with vases of beautiful blossoms, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy serving dish with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. On walls and doors poetic couplets, happy wishes are written on red paper. For example, "May you enjoy continuous good health" and "May the Star of Happiness, the Star of Wealth and the Star of Longevity shine on you" are in particular optimistic couplets.
Every traditional Chinese household have live blooming plants to be a symbol of regeneration and new growth. Flowers are understood to be representational of wealth and high positions in one's profession. A plant that blooms on New Year's Day foretells a year of prosperity and is supposed to be lucky. In more highly structured settings, plum blossoms just starting to bloom are prearranged with bamboo and pine sprigs, the assemblage symbolizing friends; the plum blossom also signifies trustworthiness and determination; the bamboo is known for its compatibility, its usefulness and its supple stems for furniture.