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Chinese New Year

By Shanghai Expert: Harris, China, December 2011

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Spring Festival is one of the most important traditional Chinese holidays with a history of over 2,000 years. It is the occasion when all family members gather together and everyone needs to go back home for a reunion no matter how far away they live from home. The legal holiday for the Spring Festival is the last day of the old lunar year until the 6th of 1st lunar month of the new lunar year. Nearly all the people can be released from their workplace to stay with family during this festival.

The Spring Festival, also known as Chinese Lunar New Year, is often called "Guo Nian” in Chinese. It falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month, often one or two months later than the Gregorian calendar. For most Chinese people, the Spring Festival is the real start of a new year, instead of January 1st. The New Year season lasts fifteen days. The celebrations end on the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month.

After a thousand-year evolution of history, many old customs are still popularly followed even now in the Spring Festival. These include lighting firecrackers and fireworks, giving gift money to children, sweeping out the dust of the house, preparing food, writing and pasting couplets, staying up late on the New Year’s Eve and paying a New Year visit/call to relatives and friends.

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