The Spring festival, commonly referred to as the Chinese New Year, is the biggest celebration in China. The festival is distinct as it encompasses seeing off the old year and welcoming the new year and family reunion. The annual event brings the Chinese people together as they engage in diverse activities over 15 days with a blend of traditional and modern ceremonies. The festival witnesses the largest migration as Chinese people travel back to their rural homes to celebrate with their families. The spring festival provides a fantastic opportunity for foreigners to learn about Chinese traditions since China is a popular destination for expatriates teaching English and those involved in looking for various jobs for Americans in China. Activities to engage in during the Spring festival include:
- Family reunion dinner
Reuniting with the family for a sumptuous meal is a special occasion for the Chinese during the spring festival. People travel back home to be reunited with their families and share with them. Before the meal begins, family members will offer a toast to each other and share stories and wishes for the coming year. Traditional dishes are usually served, including dumplings, fish, chicken, pork, and vegetables. Many families will also make special dishes unique to their families, such as pork and vegetable stew or a spicy fish dish. At the end of the meal, everyone will enjoy some tea and desserts such as mooncakes and sweet rice balls.
- Visiting a temple fair
The spring festival showcases culture through temple fairs which are an essential part of the spring festival. These fairs are held at temples and other religious sites and typically feature activities such as traditional performances, carnival games, food stalls, and other attractions. Temple fairs are a way for people to come together and celebrate their cultural heritage, as many performances and activities are steeped in traditional customs.
- Enjoy a lion dance
China opened itself to the rest of the world, which led to jobs in China for Americans and ex-pats looking for teaching opportunities in the country. The lion dance is an excellent opportunity for foreign teachers to experience Chinese traditions. A group of people works together to perform the dances, wear colorful lion costumes, and use their bodies to mimic the movements of a lion. The lion is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. Loud drumming and other percussion instruments accompany the dance, which adds to the energetic and lively atmosphere of the performance.
- Join the lantern festival
It marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations and is a time for families to get together, enjoy musical performances and admire the beauty of the lanterns. Chinese mythology-related pictures and lucky symbols embellish the lanterns available in various sizes and forms. Additionally, many families will write riddles on the lanterns to win prizes. On this day, people also eat tangyuan, a type of dumpling made of glutinous rice flour, and participate in various activities such as ice lanterns and lantern riddles. The festival promotes unity, understanding, and forgiveness by bringing the people together.
- Exchange red envelopes
The tradition of exchanging envelopes is popular during the spring festival. Foreign tutors teaching English in China can participate in this occasion by giving money to loved ones as a gesture of good luck, prosperity, and good wishes, especially to children. The envelopes are filled with cash (lucky money) and given as a gift from the older generation to the younger. Giving money in red envelopes is considered a way of expressing love and respect for the recipient, as red symbolizes good luck and fortune in Chinese culture.
Spending the Spring Festival in China can be a unique and memorable experience. With its unique traditions and customs, it offers an unforgettable experience for everyone. Whichever way you spend the Spring Festival, it’s sure to be a memorable celebration full of joy and happiness.