The most important Chinese holiday is Chinese New Year, which as known as the Spring Festival. The festival ushers in the lunar New Year, from the eve to the 15th. It is a time when the whole country throws itself into celebrating and eating.
Once upon a time, there was a monster called Nian, it would came and attack Chinese villages every New Year’s Eve, ate everything that came its way – people, animals, plants… on one New Year’s Eve, people were going to leave the village and hide in the woods as usual. An old man stopped them and convinced everyone to stay and fight the monster together. People put on red clothes, held sticks and weapons in their hands and hid in the dark. When Nian came, everyone sprang up, made a lot of noise and threw flaming bamboo. Nian was so startled by the red color and loud cracking noise that it ran away. When the sun came up, people happily found that Spring had come. After that, every New Year’s Eve people will paste Spring Festival couplets on doors (for good luck) and light up fire works to celebrate. Nian became the Chinese word for “year”.
Since then, in the days leading up to Spring Festival, every household gets a thorough clean, decorates their doors with Spring Festival couplets and prepares a hearty meal for the family gathering and celebration.
Children particularly enjoy the custom of receiving red envelopes (Hong Bao). The red envelopes contain a gift of money and are distributed by the elders to young unmarried relatives.
When the sun goes down, children will all go out to light fireworks. This is a special night, nobody goes to sleep. All the family members stay together after diner, chat and play games. Wives will start to prepare to make dumplings for midnight. At 12 AM, plates of dumplings will be served, people happily sit together, eating dumplings, saying goodbye to the past and welcoming the new year.
My mother just made delicious dumplings, so I have to go now…