How I celebrate Chinese New Year
Did you know that Chinese New Year celebrations last for 15 days? Or that on New Year’s day children receive money in lucky red envelopes from their family members? Weiwei, a Mandarin interpreter, shares her recollections of New Year celebrations and her plans for this year’s festivities!
The Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, the most important festival for Chinese people, starts on 22 January this year. It lasts for 15 days, and the last day falls on a full moon, which is the Lantern Festival.
It symbolises the union of families and extended families, sharing joy and abundance. It is kicked off with a big banquet on the night before, our New Year’s Eve, with at least 10 dishes, including chicken, duck, fish, meat, dumplings, stuffed tofu balls, and other vegetables. Male adults would drink rice wine! As it is winter time, in order to have hot food, we have a hotpot in the middle of the table, which is a big, medium high saucepan with boiling stock, continuously heating throughout the meal. This is for us to cook some of the raw ingredients, whichever we choose for ourselves, and eat with a dip.
After the meal, some of us play mahjong or cards, some sit together around a metal bucket of burning charcoal to get warm, eat more (rice cakes, oranges and chewy sweets), watch TV or reflect on the past year and share thoughts on the future.
Children would wait for the nightfall to go outside and set off their small fireworks on playgrounds. When I was a kid, I used to love it so much every year and would beg my parents to buy various fireworks for me. Watching the colourful fireworks dancing on the ground and/or sparkling in the air, it brought so much joy for me and my friends.
In the morning of New Year Day, children receive lucky money in red envelopes from all the adult family members. They can use these money to buy presents for themselves or something useful for their schooling in the new year.
As all my family are still living in China, this year I will go out to have Sichuan Hotpot with my friends on New Year Eve and make dumplings at home on New Year Day. Friends are our families when we are living far away from home and cannot go back, aren’t they?