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春节前要做的8件事 Spring Festival countdown: 8 things to do before Chinese New Year

That's Mandarin 2024-02-02 17:08

International friends enjoy the happy atmosphere ahead of the upcoming Spring Festival to celebrate the Year of the Dragon at Universal Beijing Resort in Beijing on Jan 27, 2024. [Photo/VCG]


The Year of the Dragon is coming!


Lóng nián
Year of the Dragon


This year, the Spring Festival (春节 Chūn Jié) falls on Saturday, February 10.


What's everyone busy with these days?


Here are 8 Chinese traditions before the Spring Festival you can also participate in this year.

Make Paper-Cuts

9 days before CNY (Chinese New Year)
Feb 1, 2024

Let's begin with a beautiful Chinese tradition — the art of paper cutting. Paper-cuts are often used to decorate doors & windows, so they are sometimes referred to as "window flowers", 窗花 (chuāng huā).


jiǎn chuāng huā
to make papercuts


If you make your own paper-cut design, you can glue it to the exterior of your window, so the light from the inside can shine through the negative space of the cutout.


The most popular characters are:


福 (fú) ∙ luck
囍 (xǐ) ∙ double happiness
春 (chūn) ∙ spring
财 (cái) ∙ wealth


Here's a key Chinese vocabulary that will help you not only to make your own masterpieces, but also to discuss them in Chinese:
| 剪纸 | The Chinese Art of Paper Cutting


Celebrate Xiaonian, "Little" New Year

8 days before CNY
Feb 2-3*, 2024


*People in different parts of China have different customs: people in the south celebrate it on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, and in the north – on the 24th day.


小年 (xiǎo nián), or Little New Year, is a day that marks the beginning of Chinese New Year preparations. So starting from this day, things officially get festive:


xiǎo nián
Little New Year


About the 'Kitchen God'


Xiǎonián is all about worshiping the Kitchen God who lives in the household all year long, and collects information about the family's "good" and "bad" deeds by storing them into two jars: the "good" jar (善罐 shàn guàn), and the "bad" jar (恶罐 è guàn). And today, he's supposed to go "upstairs" to the Jade Emperor (玉帝 yù dì) and make an annual report!


And guess what? People don't want the Kitchen God to do it. So they came up with various ways to stop him!


One way to stop him is by treating him with a sweet candy called 糖瓜 (táng guā), "Sweet Melon" (because its shape resembles a melon). This candy is very hard and crispy, but once you put it in your mouth, it melts and becomes sticky – so sticky that the Kitchen God can't open his mouth anymore. And if he can't speak, then he can't make his report!


táng guā
sweet to treat the Kitchen God

lit. "sweet-melon"

Do the "Big" House Cleaning

6-7 days before CNY
Feb 3-4, 2024


One week before Chinese New Year's Eve, and it's about the time to clean your house thoroughly: sweep the dust, mop the floors, get rid of any spider webs in remote corners, wash your clothes, curtains, etc.


sǎo chén rì


But it's not only about 'physical' cleaning. You should also try to get rid of all the excessive and old things that you've accumulated during the year. By getting rid of old things, you will make room for the new energy in the new year.


Be careful though and DO NOT clean during the first two days of the New Year, not to "sweep away" good luck.


Merchandises of red dragon plushies are seen on sale at a shop in London's Chinatown on Jan 27, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

Do Your Holiday Shopping

4 days before CNY
Feb 6, 2024


Buying new things before the Chinese New Year's eve is another popular tradition. It's not just about saving money with CNY sales; it's about buying new things to treat your family – and start the New Year in abundance!


nián huò
New Year purchases


You can purchase anything and everything you can think of:


吃的 (chī de) ∙ things to eat
用的 (yòng de) ∙things to use
穿的 (chuān de) ∙ clothes to wear
戴的 (dài de) ∙ accessories to wear
耍的 (shuǎ de) ∙ toys to play with
供的 (gòng de) ∙offerings to ancestors
干的 (gān de) ∙ fresh food
生的 (shēng de) ∙ raw food
熟的 (shú de) ∙ cooked food
etc, etc!


You might be thinking – what a waste! Only a few days ago it was all about throwing things away, and now we're supposed to buy new. But this tradition actually comes back to the days when food and clothes weren't so readily available. For ordinary people (老百姓 lǎo bǎi xìng) the Spring festival was once-in-a-year chance to enjoy a delicious feast and buy new clothes.


Visit a Bathhouse

3 days before CNY
Feb 7, 2024


With only 3 days left before the CNY, everyone's houses are already clean, the new clothes are ready — so it's time to take good care of the "body". And what's better than having a good bath, preferably in a bathhouse?


xǐ fú lù
"to wash-fortune"


洗福禄 (xǐ fú lù) refers to welcoming in the New Year by "cleaning" yourself from bad luck, misfortune, and disease. It's also important because bathing and hair-washing are not recommended on the first day of the New Year!


It might not be easy to find a bath in modern day and age (so many people have showers only), but it's a good excuse to visit a bathhouse.


Make Spring Festival Couplets

2 days before CNY
Feb 8, 2024


Only 2 days left till the New Year! It's time to decorate your house and create a festive atmosphere, mainly with red color.


There are many different items you could use, such as lanterns or paper cuts, but let's look at the most interesting type of decoration — Spring Festival couplets, or 春联 (chūn lián).


chūn lián
Spring Festival couplets

Traditionally, 春联 (chūn lián) are two lines of vertical text written in black ink on red paper and pasted on both sides of the door + one horizontal line at the top. The text includes New Year wishes or something you'd like to have more of in the New Year: wealth, luck, success, peace.


Celebrate the New Year's Eve

1 day before CNY
Feb 9, 2024


Chú xī
Chinese New Year's Eve


This day is the first day of the official holidays in China. Many shops close down completely or stay open for half a day, so that people could rush home to their families and prepare 年夜饭 (nián yè fàn) – family reunion dinner. It is believed to be the most important meal of the year.


Is there a similar tradition in your country, to have a family dinner together? Which holiday is it for?


So tonight is the night when people usually share dinner with their loved ones, watch the CCTV New Year Gala (春晚, chūn wǎn) on TV, and stay up late to meet the new year (守岁 shǒu suì).


Celebrate the Chinese New Year's Day

Day 1 of the New Year
Feb 10, 2024


Chū yī
First day of the Chinese New Year


The Year of the Dragon is here.


If the previous night was full of celebration, on the New Year's day, there won't be much going on. People usually get up late and spend time with family.


Hongbao Exchange


It's quite common to exchange 红包 (hóng bāo) – red packets! They can be "physical" red envelopes with cash, but nowadays, most of 红包-s are exchanged "digitally" on Wechat.


Have you ever exchanged 红包 hóng bāo-s on WeChat? Are you good at snatching them quickly?


来源:That's Mandarin

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