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Chinese Festivals
 
Spring Festival <Chinese New Year>
The Spring Festival Season lasts 15 days. We Chinese people observe Spring Festival in the same way that western people observe Christmas Day. Spring Festival is the time for family reunion. Children who stay far away from home will return home during the season.

What is Spring Festival ?
Chinese people also call Spring Festival ˇ°passing 'Nian'. What is ˇ°Nianˇ±? It's a kind of animal that can bring us bad luck. Of course, it doesn't exist. It results from our imagination. There is a legend about ˇ°Nianˇ±. ˇ°Nianˇ± was a monster with antennae. It was very rude and lived at the bottom of the sea. It went ashore on
lunar New Year's Eve to devour people and animals. People were scared of it. On every lunar New Year's Eve, in order to keep themselves safe, people fled to the mountains, bringing along the old and the young. On one lunar New Year's Eve, an old man with long whiskers came into the village. He was begging for some food and a place to stay overnight. At that time, the villagers were in a hurry fleeing to the mountains to avoid being hurt by ˇ°Nianˇ±. The villagers were busy running for their lives, so no one noticed the old man except an old lady. ˇ°Climb the mountain, or 'Nian' will devour you.ˇ± She said to the old man. The old man smiled, but he didn't say any word. ˇ°Be quick, in less than several hours 'Nian' will come.ˇ± The old lady added. Still, the old man smiled. Then, he said,ˇ± If you let me stay at your home for a night, I assure you of driving 'Nian' out.ˇ± ˇ°Butˇ­ˇ± At last, the old lady had no choice but to flee to the mountains, leaving the old man in her house. At midnight, ˇ°Nianˇ± did come. It found there was something different in one house and so walked around the house to see whether there was anything unusual. There was a piece of Chinese red paper on the door, and a flame indoors. Seeing that, ˇ°Nianˇ± trembled all over and cried in a strange voice. It glared at the house, and then pounced on the house. As it was approaching the house, suddenly some loud sound of firecrackers came out of the house. Again ˇ°Nianˇ± trembled, and it had no courage to approach any more. At that time, the door opened. Indoors the old man who begged the old lady for her house to stay overnight smiled at ˇ°Nianˇ±. He was wearing a Chinese red coat. On seeing that, ˇ°Nianˇ± ran away. In fact, ˇ°Nianˇ± was afraid of red, flame and firecracker.

From then on, people living in the village knew how to drive ˇ°Nianˇ± off. It is the reason why we Chinese people like wearing red clothes and setting off firecracker on lunar New Year's Eve. It is an age-long custom. On lunar New Year's Eve: we wear new clothes and hats, especially red ones; we wish our relatives and friends a happy new year, we have red antithetical couplets on our doors, we set off firecracker, we light candles and wait for the new year to come.

How to spend Spring Festival ?
The Spring Festival Evening Party
In 1983, we had the first Spring Festival Evening Party held by CCTV. It was a direct broadcast live program. After it, the party were hold every year. On the lunar New Year's Eve, the whole family watch this program while having festival dinner. It has become a staple of what we should do on the eve of the lunar New Year. Families celebrate their reunion at that time. The evening party consists of all kinds of entertainment in different Chinese styles. People dance and sing sweet songs in the program. It also has talking shows and comedic performance. Because of this program, a song titled ˇ°My Chinese Heartˇ± has been extremely popular throughout the nation. Every actor or actress in China feel it a great honor to be able to perform in this program. So they work hard for a chance to participate in this program. Nowadays people pay more and more attention to this program. In order to satisfy the people, CCTV tries its best to give a perfect program every year.

Setting Off the Firecracker
The first thing we do in the New Year is to set off the firecracker. Setting off fireworks is a traditional feature that is believed to create a festival atmosphere. It can bring us happiness and good luck. People especially children like setting fireworks. During Spring Festival you can hear the frequent sound of fireworks. You can also see that a lot of children running about in the street to set fireworks. You should watch out if you walk outside during the Spring Festival. Otherwise, you may be hurt.

However, firecrackers create a lot of pollution and it may do harm to people. So since 1993 inhabitants can set off firecracker only in certain places. Now some people step on balloons for the effect of loud sound as a substitute of fireworks.

New year in Shanghai
The New Year celebration starts with thanks-giving ancestor worship on the twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month. Ancestors are sanctified as gods and believed to have divine powers to decide the destiny of the family.

On New Year's Eve, every household worships its ancestors with sacrificial offerings to pray for good luck throughout the year. On New Year's Day. as soon as the day dawns, the head of the family leads his entire family in ancestor worship which follows certain rituals and rules in respect of sitting arrangement and sequence of worship.

Thanks-giving worships to the Kitchen God and other gods are also made on the tweniy-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month. It is said that the Kitchen God will return to heaven to present a memorial to the Jade Emperor on that day. The offering of malt sugar and puncture vine will make him report on people,s good deeds only. The Kitchen God will be welcome back on New Year's Eve. Following the sacrificial offerings to ancestors and gods, a series of New Year,s activities will be launched in succession.

Shanghai families staying up all night on New Year's Eve to wait for the new year.
The deafening sound of gongs and drums resounds through the sky. New Spring Festival couplets are pasted up on branches of cypress are hung from the eaves. Everything looks fresh and gay.

New Year calls will be made from the early moming of the New Year's Day till the tenth day of lunar New Year, but not later than the fifteenth day. It starts with children's offering New Year felicitations to their parents who will then lead their children to visit their friends and relatives to extend congratulatory greetings.

Paying New Year calls is also said to bring happiness to the family. The guests will be treated to "yuanbao tea" (tea with two Chinese olives) and liquor-saturated rice while the young will be given red packets.

On the night of the fifteenth day of lunar New Year, the thunderous roar of firecrackers reverberates in the whole city which will be illuminated by a multitude of festive lanterns and thronged with large crowds of people. The whole scene is a tremendous spectacle. On that day, women and children will have a night out to adnure the lanterns and also to cross three bridges so as to dispel disease. All the festive lanterns will be removed on the night of the twenty-third day.


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Mr Aron Long,an excellent local English Guide in Shanghai!1.Shanghai city tour (Sightseeing,Shopping,Leisure,Golfing,Working,Nightlife)2.Business tour/interpretation (International Exhibition,Conference)3.Family tour 4.Outdoor camping near Shanghai5.water-town guiding in Shanghai6.Airport pick-up service (Shanghai Pudong /Hongqiao Airport)7.Vehicle rental(Car,Van,Mini-bus)8.Flight& Hotel booking 9.Accompanying service around China.Shanghai Map, Weather,Shanghai Local Time,Currency & Exchange,Chinese Food & Snack,Shanghai Local Phone Calls,Visa & Customs,Useful Chinese ABC,Useful Conversions,Consulates in Shanghai,Int'l Hospitals in Shanghai,Int'l Kindergartens & Schools,Chinese Traditional Festivals,Chinese Traditional Music