Spring Festival is the most important festival held in China every year, and the Chinese people celebrate it every year. No matter where we are, no matter who we are, we are Chinese, we are very excited and want to go home and reunite during the Spring Festival.
Vocabulary about the Spring Festival：
春 节：Spring Festival
Spring Festival is built upon China’s age-old history and rich traditional culture. When we celebrate the Spring Festival, it means that we are entering a new year in China. Everything you need to know about Chinese New Year can be read here. This will give you a powerful first impression about Spring Festival.
除 夕：Chinese New Year’s Eve
The day before the Spring Festival is named“除夕”, which we translate as “Chinese New Year’s Eve”. “夕” is an ancient evil creature in Chinese mythology who liked to steal food and bring evil to people. Driving 夕 away became an enduring tradition. 除means “drive away”, and so this tradition was named“除夕”.
rán bào zhú
燃 爆 竹：Fire Firecrackers
So how did people drive such an evil creature away? In ancient China, there were some men called alchemists who smelted metal with fire and water in a big metallic oven. Those people discovered how to make gunpowder, which has been used in munitions for thousands of years since that time. The powder made a noisy sound when burned. In order to drive the evil creature away, Chinese people used it to make firecrackers to frighten 夕 because 夕 is afraid of loud noises. But nowadays in China, firecrackers are not permitted to be set off except at certain times because of regulations related to environmental protection, so we treat 燃爆竹 more like a ceremony and only do that at a scheduled time.
过 年：Celebrating Spring Festival
夕 has another name we often use:年. 过 means passing/passing by, so here 过年 means that people drove 年 away successfully and passed the day of 除夕 safely. Thus, we celebrate the success of 过年. And 过 means celebrating nowadays.
dà nián sān shí
大 年 三 十：Chinese New Year’s Eve
Chinese New Year’s Eve is also translated as “大年三十”. Here “大年” means the specific point in time when the old year turns into the new year, “三十” just means the thirtieth or last day of a month according to Chinese lunar calendar. On the day, Chinese families will get together to have a wonderful and delicious reunion dinner.
dà nián chū yī
大 年 初 一：The First Day of the Lunar New Year
We call the first day of the new year春节 as well as 大年初一. Here 大年 means the starting point for the new year on the Chinese lunar calendar. 初一 means the first day of new year. Because 初 means the very beginning of something, we also count from the first day to the tenth day of the new year using初, like 初一, 初二, 初三. But, after the tenth day, we say the date without 初.
拜 年：Pay a New Year’s Visit
In addition, the Spring Festival is a nice opportunity for Chinese people to visit relatives and friends. This tradition is called 拜年. Here 拜 means “pay a visit”. In ancient China, people regarded 年 as a kind of evil creature that might not be driven away successfully, and thus they would prepare food to pacify it at the time of the festival. After the creature finished its meal and went away, people would feel relieved. Then, after 大年三十, people would freely visit their relatives and friends again. Therefore, 拜年has been a Chinese tradition from that time on.
yā suì qián
压 岁 钱：Gift Money
Older Chinese people believe that young children are easily influenced by evil things, which are called 祟, a word that sounds the same as 岁. So, when the children have grown one year older at the new year, their elders will prepare 压岁钱 for them. Here 压 means “put down evil.”压岁钱 is always put in a red envelope. Chinese people hope such gift money will keep their children safe, lucky, and happy all the time.
Now, let’s enjoy a famous poem about Chinese New Year.
元 日 New Year’s Day
sòng wáng ān shí
（宋) 王 安 石 By Wang Anshi
bào zhú shēng zhōng yī suì chú
爆 竹 声 中 一 岁 除,
(Amid the boom of firecrackers a year has come to an end,)
chūn fēng sòng nuǎn rù tú sū
春 风 送 暖 入 屠 苏。
(And the spring wind has wafted warm breath to the wine.)
qiān mén wàn hù tóng tóng rì
千 门 万 户 曈 曈 日,
(While the rising sun shines over each and every household,)
zǒng bǎ xīn táo huàn jìu fú
总 把 新 桃 换 旧 符。
(People would put up new peach wood charm for the old.)
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