The Chinese New Year -Dragon Year

By Dr. Harish Chandra Shah ( President, Nepal China Cultural and Educational Council )

The Chinese New Year -Dragon Year

Nepal and China are connected by mountains and rivers. The friendship between Nepal and China has a very long history. The two countries have always maintained a profound friendship and cooperative partnership, and are true friends who share weal and woe. Like Nepal, various traditional festivals are celebrated and observed in China. May be some of us have less knowledge about the Chinese festival and customs. Here I would like to give a brief introduction about Chinese spring festival and New Year.

In China, and the whole world where Chinese people live, each year when winter at its    end and spring around corner, people throughout China enthusiastically celebrate the first important traditional holiday of the year. Chinese people celebrate spring festival as a New Year by the lunar Calendar. Coming New Year is going to start from 10th February 2024. According to Chinese lunar calendar, there are 12 animals use to symbolize the Year in which a person is born. For example, Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. Next coming year is dragon year.

2024 is the year of the Dragon based on Chinese zodiac. It's the year of wood dragon starting from Feb.10, 2024 to Jan.24. Dragon, also called Long, is the fifth in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac signs. Chinese Horoscope 2024 predicts a prosperous year for the dragon, representing authority, prosperity, and good fortune.  Dragon year 2024 brings evolution, improvement, and abundance. The personality traits of people born in the year of the dragon are: charismatic, intelligent, confident, powerful and they are naturally lucky and gifted. In everything that they do, they tend to do it to the best of their ability with high standards. 

Dragon Year represents positive qualities such as power, strength, good luck, and wisdom. The Chinese dragon is considered a celestial and divine creature, with the ability to control natural elements such as wind and water.   Dragon is a symbol of good luck, a long life, and wisdom. Dragons are friendly, helpful creatures. It's considered really strong and a symbol of power. If you're born in a Dragon year, like 2012, your lucky colors for 2024 are gold, silver, and purple.
According to Chinese zodiac compatibility rules, people born in the Year of the Dragon could get along well with Rooster, Rat, and Monkey people; a happy married life would be likely. However, people of Ox, Sheep, or Dog signs should be avoided when choosing a life partner.

Spring festival is China's major traditional festival. Except spring festival, the lantern festival, pure Brightness Day, the dragon boat festival, the mid-autumn festival, and double ninth festival are celebrated as a major traditional festival with full of joyness and happiness. On the occasion of spring festival, Chinese people observe one-week national holidays starting from the first day of the New Year, people put on new clothes to visit relatives and friends and exchange greetings. On the second day, friends and relatives, visit each other with New Year cakes, orange crunchy candy as gifts. On the third day people just stay home and sweep clean their houses.

In the past, where the Chinese people used the lunar calendar, the spring festival was known as the "New Year". It falls on the first day of the lunar month, the beginning of a New Year. After 19' A.D. China adopted the Gregorian calendar to distinguish the lunar New Year from the New Year by Gregorian calendar, now the lunar New Year is called spring festival, which is generally celebrated in the last week of January and the mid-February. The last evening before the spring festival, the lunar New Year's Eve is a very important time for family reunions. The Whole family gets together for a sumptuous dinner, followed by an evening of pleasant talk, games etc. Some families celebrate very likely with different cultural Programs staying up all night "Seeking the year out". On this occasion, some go for marriage considering auspicious day. Go for long tour and some watch colorful T.V. Programs. The next morning, people use to pay their New Year greetings and wishes to their relatives and friends. They use to send and receive New Year and spring festival card. Now most of the city dwellers send greetings through WeChat and E-mail. During the New Year and spring festival various traditional and modern recreational activities are enjoyed in many Parts of China like lion dances, dragon lantern dances and – boat rowing and stilt – walking. Firework is played to express joy and happiness during the spring festival and other auspicious occasions too. Fireworks playing is regarded as one China's most important custom. Since several hundred years, the uses of spring festival couplets are still very popular in China. Spring festival Couplets are hung not only on the front of gates, but also, on the walls and beams and in setting rooms. Preparation for the New Year begins several days early when houses are thoroughly cleaned and new clothes purchased.

It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Another custom is the decoration of windows and doors with red paper cuts and couplets. Popular themes among these paper-cuts and couplets include that of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. For the northern regions of China, dumplings are featured prominently in meals. 

On New Year's Eve, all the members of families come together for joint feast on thin occasion, JIAOZI – steamed dumplings are popular among Chinese people. JAOZI is much preferred the north, while a sticky Sweet glutinous rice pudding called NIAN GAO is preferred in South of China.

Guo Nian means passing the year is common term for wishing among the Chinese people for celebrating the spring festival. Chinese celebrate spring festival like X – mas for Americans and European and Dashain festival for Nepali.

In spite of heavy influence of western culture, Chinese people still celebrate and observe their various customs, festivals and activities accompanying traditional feasts and celebration with enthusiasm.