Chinese Spring Festival, also called Lunar New Year, has more than 4,000 years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the grandest and the most important festival for Chinese people. It is also the time for the whole families to get together, which is similar with Christmas Day to the westerners.
Originating during the Shang Dynasty (about 17th – 11th century BC), Spring Festival, which celebrates family reunion, is full of rich and colorful activities, and new hopes with the advent of spring and flowers blossoming. People from different regions and different ethnic groups celebrate it in their unique ways.
The Spring Festival comes on the first day of Chinese lunar calendar and lasts for almost half of a month. But in folk custom, this traditional holiday lasts from the 23rd day of the twelfth month to the 15th day of the first month (Lantern Festival) in the lunar calendar. Among these days, the New Year’s Eve and the first day of the New Year is the peak time of the festival. The exact days are different in every year according to the lunar. calendar.
Customs and Practices
Paper Cut – Character ‘Fu’ Meaning – Happiness and ‘Feng’ Meaning Harvest
Every family does a thorough house cleaning and purchases enough food, including fish, meat, roasted nuts and seeds, all kinds of candies and fruits, etc, for the festival period. Also, new clothes must be bought, especially for children. Red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets, one line on each side of the gate, are pasted at every gate. The Chinese character ‘Fu’ is pasted on the center of the door and paper-cuts adorn windows.
The Spring Festival is a new start for a new year, so it is regarded as the omen of a new year. People have many taboos during this period. Many bad words related to “death”, “broken”, “killing”, “ghost” and “illness” or “sickness” are forbidden during conversations. In some places, there are more specific details. They consider it unlucky if the barrel of rice is empty, because they think they will have nothing to eat in the next year. Taking medicine is forbidden on this day, otherwise, people will have sick for the whole year and take medicine constantly.
Chinese Dumplings – Traditional Food of Spring Festival
Food during this festival has its characteristics, which is the representative of Chinese festival food culture. Dumplings and the reunion dinner are indispensable at this time. Cold and hot dishes are all served. Fish is always an important dish then, which expresses people’s hope of having a wealthy new year.
Celebrations in Kenya
The Spring Festival in Kenya will be at the 2 Confucius Institutes unless they decide to change. With no confirmations yet, most likely the CI at UoN will hold one or both together with KU will be at the Chinese Embassy. I’ll update more info as time goes.