Preparations for the 2017 Chinese New Year have just begun. For every Chinese, in China and other ethnic communities around the world, lunar new year celebrations are considered the most festive holiday in a calendar year.
Family members from far and near would travel home for family reunion as they usher out the old year, usually with fireworks, and welcome the new year with joy and different cultural festivities.
According to the Chinese horoscope, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster.
Just like the Chinese zodiac symbols is dependent on a lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year does not start from 1 January.
The Chinese Lunar New Year usually falls between 21 January and 20 February. This period of the year is celebrated in different ways across China.
In most rural communities, the new year celebrations are observed with “traditional cleansing,” closely related to “spring cleansing”. This has been the tradition for decades.
Traditional cleansing refers to a kind of ritualistic sweeping of a home and nearby surroundings with the belief that doing so can ward off evil spirits which people feared may be lurking around in dark corners. Every piece of furniture is turned upside down and thoroughly cleaned to ensure the coming year brings luck.
In line with the “sweeping ritual”, main gates to every home are always sealed on the new year’s eve.
The head of every traditional Chinese family would only unlock the front door shortly before the rooster crowed. This moment is often celebrated with loud and non-stop firecrackers which could last for several minutes.
Then the main gate is opened to let in wealth, good health and luck for the new year.
In recent years, people no longer sleep on New Year’s Eve. Every modern Chinese family stay awake to watch special holiday programs lined up for broadcasts on radio and TV.
Children in most families wake up the morning of New Year’s Day to find surprise gifts hidden under their pillows by parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts.
Hong bao (red envelopes with cash gifts) are given to children, including adults, as a traditional good luck wish.
Roosters are those born after the Chinese New Year in 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2017. They are characterized as trustworthy, hardworking, strong at timekeeping, career-driven and good at multitasking.
The Chinese Lunar Year 2017 begins on Saturday, 28 January. China’s new zodiac sign, Fire Rooster, applies in 36 days only.