Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year
Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival (Chun Jie). To the Chinese people, it is as important as Christmas to people in the West. The dates for this annual celebration are determined by the lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. According to tradition, the Spring Festival starts from the early days of the 12th lunar month every year and will last till the middle of the 1st lunar month of the next year. Although China has 56 ethnic groups, minorities celebrate their Spring Festival almost the same day as the Han people. People in Yangshuo celebrate in the same way.
Usually people prepare for the New Year from the last few days of the last moon before the New Year comes. They will clean house, pay off debts and buy new things like clothes for the kids. A very important thing is to decorate the whole building with paper scrolls written with auspicious slogans, and then burn incense at home and pay respect to the ancestors and bless the gods for good health and luck in the new year.
On the Spring Festival Eve , the whole family will get together and eat a big dinner. Dishes with chicken, fish and bean curd are staples. According to their pronunciation in Chinese, respectively "ji" (chicken), "yu" (fish) and "doufu" (bean curd), mean auspicious, abundance and richness. After dinner, the whole family will sit together, chatting and watching TV. It's time for relaxing after being busy all year long. People in Yangshuo will make a lot of cakes, which are called "Nian Gao", meaning "passing the year", what actually means" greeting the new year". According to the customs, each family will stay up to wait for the coming year. And at midnight at the turn of the old and new year, people will light fire-crackers to drive the evil spirits away and greet the arrival of the new year. In an instant, the whole town will be engulfed in the deafening noise of firecrackers.
On the first day of the new year, everybody wakes up early and dresses up in their best clothing. People extend greetings to their parents and the children will get money as a New Year gift. For Yangshuo people, it's very important to invite grandpa and grandma to have dinner together on the first day, as on Spring festival Eve. The lively atmosphere not only fills every household, but will spread to the streets where a series of activities such as lion dancing and dragon lantern dancing are held. All in all the Spring Festival lasts for 15 days.