Traditions light up Lunar New Year









BEIJING  |  2015-02-19 20:04:33


Traditions light up

Lunar New Year


By Wang Jian, Wang Huan, Zhu Han, Zhao Wanwei, Ayinuer, Huang Xing and Chen Ruo



Spring Festival is a time to observe old traditions and celebrate China’s cultural inheritance.

Food is an important part of New Year celebration. In northern China, dumplings are indispensable on New Year’s eve and the first meal of the New Year.

Wang Yuzhe, of Caoxian County of Shandong Province, got up early on Thursday morning of February 19, swept the courtyard floor to clear up firecracker residue and woke the whole family to prepare for the New Year breakfast together — dumplings.

While wrapping up a coin into a dumpling, Wang said that the person who finds this dumpling will make big money in the coming year.

This associating between dumplings and fortune is said based on the supposed resemblance to “yuan bao” a boat-shaped gold ingot used as currency in ancient times.

In southern China, most people prefer rice to wheat, so families eat “tang yuan”, balls of glutinous rice. On Thursday morning, Zhang Menghui in Hangzhou will put on new clothes and sit down to enjoy tang yuan with her family,

“Whenever I return home for New Year, we eat sweet tang yuan together,” she said. Zhang works in Hong Kong and returns to home twice a year. “For the festivals when I am in Hong Kong, I eat tang yuan with friends to express my longing for home.”

In Beijing, temple fairs and crowded Spring Festival gatherings featuring acrobats shows, song and dance performances and stalls selling snacks and souvenirs are the order of the day.

In Ditan Park, the Temple of Earth in the northeast of Beijing, stalls selling traditional handicrafts attract flocks of sightseers.

Xiao Jing brought his hand-made “hairy monkeys” — tiny humanoid figures made from furry magnolia buds and sloughed cicada shells.The monkeys are set in old-fashioned Beijing street scenes, drinking big bowls of tea and eating sugarcoated haws.

“I inherited the skill from my grandfather. Although this is an ancient craft, it is still appealing today. The scenes are close to life and can still touch people’s hearts,” he said.

In Tibet, Lunar New Year is doubly joyful this year as it coincides with the Tibetan year of the Wooden Ram.

At 8 a.m., the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa is surrounded by people praying. La Tso left home for the temple at 5 a.m. with her mother. “I am here praying for good health and peace for the family,” she said.

In Qamdo, the lunch on the New Year’s day is a big family gathering. Yak meat is de rigueur, and people also eat rice cooked with ginseng fruits which symbolize longevity.

In Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, despite a temperature of minus 12 degrees centigrade, the city streets, decorated with red lanterns, are filled with festivities.

For Li Jianjun, 68, the best part for this Spring Festival is that his son has come back home from Shanghai with his daughter-in-law and grandchildren. Li and his wife spent a whole week preparing the New Year dinner. “We stay at home on the first day of new year according to tradition. We see our in-laws tomorrow and visit other relatives the day after tomorrow,” he said.

Li Xinyong, vice president of National Folk Association of China, said, the Spring Festival should not be a carnival, it should be a celebration of folk traditions.

Besides inheriting customs, Chinese people should foster a deeper understanding of their cultural identity, he suggested.





















 Photo taken on February 18, 2015 shows villagers in Ludian County of Yunnan Province gathering

in the square of their temporary settlement for a special New Year dinner on the eve of Spring Festival.  

Photo by Zhao Zhuoyue





KUNMING  |    2015-02-19 16:57:30


New Year celebration

in China’s quake zone


By Wang Jian, Bai Jingli and Zhao Zhuorui



On the eve of Spring Festival, some villagers in Ludian County of Yunnan Province gathered in the square of their temporary settlement for a special New Year dinner.

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit the county on August 3, claiming more than 600 lives and destroying over 80,000 homes.

In Longtoushan Township, a worst hit area, more than 30 tables have been set in the Huijiezi settlement with bottles of wine and hot dishes prepared by villagers.

At a table shared with another family, Duan Qirong, 45, sips from his glass and watches the children playing around with an air of satisfaction.

“Although we are still living in tents, I am looking forward to moving to a new house in the new year,” he said.

The county government said more than 15,000 families had been relocated before the New Year. Construction has begun on more than 41,000 new dwellings, over 85 percent what’s needed. The drinking water supply destroyed in the quake has also been restored.

Bao Jian, who heads the county, hopes that by the end of August, all work on houses will be finished. The new schools and medical stations will also be completed. County officials have been visiting displaced villagers for the last month, extending New Year wishes and distributing money and gifts of clothes, rice and cooking oil.

In the Ganjiazhai settlement site, tents are pasted with traditional New Year couplets. Zhang, 71, is cleaning the outside of the tents with a rag. “We need to do some cleaning for the New Year,” she said, adding that the government has given them clothes, quilts and decorations for Spring Festival.

The county government said over 30,000 tents, 240,000 quilts and 230,000 coats as well as heating equipment such as stoves and electric blankets have been distributed. Temperatures in Ludian can be as low as minus ten degrees centigrade in winter.

Since the use of heaters may be a fire hazard, the settlements have plenty of fire extinguishers and security personnel are on duty 24 hours.

Since Ludian is an underdeveloped county, apart from new infrastructure, the county will focus on helping villagers increase their income by developing specialty trades such as planting pepper and walnuts.









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