Though the Spring Festival celebrates the new year, many activities actually take place on the previous night. On the eve of the Spring Festival, almost every single family in China would gather, and eat a feast of union. Different families will have their different traditional foods, ours are dumplings and babao (8-treasure) rice.
The most important color of the Spring Festival is red. When the holiday approaches, people will wear red clothes, tape red paper cuttings to the windows, and hang couplets. People would hang the character “Fu” (good fortune) on the door. In the morning of the Spring Festival, kids will get lucky red envelopes under the pillow containing money as a ward against evil.
Another important tradition of the Spring Festival is fireworks. My first memory of fireworks is when I was really young, maybe 4 or 5, at my grandparents’ in Yunnan in southwest China. I used the kind in the shape of a stick, if you light the end, it would sizzle, and bright sparks would jump around it. This kind of fireworks is really fun, because you could wave it around in the air and draw shapes with it. Afterwards, the smoke it emits would stay in the same shape for quite a while against the dark night. The bigger fireworks are terribly loud, but once they explode, there is no other sight like it: colorful light exploding in circles. Even though I always cover my ears, my heart still thuds with every explosion.
There are arguments that the holiday shouldn’t be called “Chinese New Year” because China isn’t the only country to celebrate it. But in Chinese it is simply called “chun jie”, which translates to “spring festival”. It is the western world that named it Chinese New Year.
Regardless of what it is called, the Spring Festival is a time of joy, when families unite, and celebrations are thrown.