How we celebrate the Chinese spring festival in 2021 pandemics?
The covid19 virus pandemics has limited our travel out. My home is in Shanghai, let me share with you how we celebrate the Chinese spring festival. Chinese New Year is the festival to celebrate the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunar calendar. It is also called the spring festival 春节. In 2021, the first day of the Chinese lunar New Year will be on Friday, 12 February. It is the Year of the Ox, you know.
The annual reunion dinner
The annual reunion dinner is important to my family in Shanghai. It is not convenient to leave Shanghai, back to my parent’s home for the annual reunion dinner. I will have the dinner with my son and daughter in Shanghai. Whereever you live in China, it is a custom to make jiaozi (dumplings). Dumplings symbolize wealth because its shape resembles a Chinese sycee. Niangao is a must to eat. Niángāo literally means “new year cake” with a homophonous meaning “prosperous year”.
We use fireworks decorated my house
It is a traditional practice to light fireworks. Chinese customs think the fireworks are to drive away the evil spirit “nian”. Most cities in China had banned it because of much concerning over fire hazards. As a substitute, we display fireworks round the door as a decoration now.
Dressed in red
The color red is commonly worn throughout Chinese New Year; Our traditional beliefs held that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. Wearing new clothes symbolizes a new beginning of the year.
Icons and ornaments for the spring festivals
I think you may know some Chinese elements and decorations, the red lanterns, Chinese knots, papercutting and couplets to be hung on the doorways and walls. Red is the dominant color used in New Year celebrations. Red color symbolizes joy, virtue, truth and sincerity. The sound of the word “red” (红) is in Mandarin homophonous with the word for “prosperous.” Nianhua is a form of Chinese colored woodblock printing, always in red and to be decorated during Chinese New Year.
Symbolism: Fu character
The red diamond-shaped fu characters (福) are displayed on the entrances of Chinese homes. This sign is usually seen hanging upside down, since the Chinese word dao (倒), is homophonous with (到 ‘arrive’). Therefore, it symbolizes the arrival of luck, happiness, and prosperity.
Taking family portrait is a ceremony when the families are gathered. The photo is taken at the hall or in front of the house. The senior heads of the family sit in the center at the front.
New Year’s Gala
The CCTV New Year’s Gala is a TV entertainment show. There are four hours in the New Year’s eve and lasts to the early morning. Watching TV show has become a tradition in China. The final countdown to the New Year is led by the hosts near the end of the show; traditionally, the Gala has closed with a performance of the song “Can’t forget tonight” (难忘今宵). It is a tradition of going to bed late on New Year’s Eve, or even keeping awake the whole night. We call it “shousui” (守岁), this practice is thought to add on to one’s parents’ longevity.
New Year’s greeting on wechat or phone call
Most importantly, on the first day of Chinese New Year, it is a time to honor one’s elders of the families. We usually visit the senior members of the extended families, parents and grandparents. This year, because of keeping social distance, we shall greet each other on wechat video chat.
Second day – Married daughters’ visit
The second day of the Chinese New Year is known as “beginning of the year” (开年). If the family has a married daughter, it is the day for the daughter and son-in-law to visit their birth parents.
Traditionally, red envelopes or red packets (红包) are passed out during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, from elders to children. Red packets are also called as “yasuiqian” (压岁钱), literally being translated to, “the money used to suppress the evil spirit”. Red packets usually contain money. Chinese superstitions favor the even numbers, for example, 8 is a homophone for “wealth”, and 6 is a homophone for “smooth”; except for the number 4 because 4 is a homophone of “death”. Odd numbers are also avoided, because they are associated with cash given during funerals (帛金,báijīn).
Asking for red packets is normally called讨紅包 tǎo-hóngbāo. The people should not turn down such a request as it would mean “out of luck”. Red packets are generally given by married couples to the younger non-married children. It is custom and polite for children to wish elders a happy new year, and good fortune before accepting the red envelope.
From the 2010s, the WeChat APP became popular in China, we distribute red envelopes in a virtual format by digital payments. You know, there were over 100 billion virtual red envelopes sent over during the 2020 spring festival.
New Year celebration films
China filmmakers also release “New Year celebration films” (賀歲片), mostly of them are comedies. So, Watching Lunar New Year films also becomes a cultural activity. The 2020 spring festival was special. All cinemas were shut down because of the corvid19 pandemics. In the coming 2021 spring festival, all cinemas will still open under controlling of limited audience. Watching movies with my family is my favor.
Shanghai Jing An Temple
Most Shanghai families usually go to the Jing An temple or Shanghai Temple market in the downtown. It is a ritual to pray for a prosperous new year by lighting the first incense of the year. Incense is burned at the graves of ancestors as part of the prayer rituals. But many households may not hold family parties this year in order to keep social distance.
Shanghai Temple Market
Unfortunately, the Shanghai temple market was closed during the spring festival 2020. It will continue to be closed in 2021. The Shanghai temple market, also called the Imperial garden, has both open-air markets and inside house shops, where to sell new year related products, such as, flowers, toys, clothing, and many decorations and gifts. There usually hold a lion dance and dragon dances. People believe that the loud drum beats, lion and dragon faces can evict the evil spirits.