Opinion / From the Readers

What's the buzz

(China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-21 07:58

We will soon welcome a busy Spring Festival, starting with the shopping season in the 12th lunar month and ending with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the New Year. Homes are being cleaned. Windows and doors are being decorated with papercuts and couplets. Generous meals and sacrifices to the Kitchen God are in the making. However, within China, regional customs and traditions celebrating Chinese New Year vary widely. What are the special customs and taboos in your home town? China Daily's mobile phone news readers share their views:

Apart from traditional folk dances such as lion dances and stilt walking, the customs celebrating the Chinese New Year in Liaocheng, my hometown, include a drama written by fellow villagers who also make all exquisite props such as the dragon, lion and boat by themselves. The whole cast of the performance are volunteers, and they also give the show for free in neighboring villages. Some of the audiences will offer hot water or cigarettes to express their thanks for the play.

A READER, Liaocheng, Shandong province

There are a series of particular ceremonies held from the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month to the Lantern Festival in my hometown, Tianzhen, Shanxi province. But I think the most characteristic of northern Shanxi's customs is the whole family sits around the "flourishing fire" on Chinese New Year's eve. In the yard coal is piled up in a hollow tower. The amount of coal is supposed to guarantee the fire will last to the first day of the first lunar month at least. The longer the fire lasts, the luckier the family will be in the coming year. It is particularly happy to have the whole family sit together, recalling funny anecdotes and giving wishes for the future.

A READER, Xi'an, Shaanxi province

What is most characteristic in Ningde, Fujian, must be the banquet to show respect to Buddha on the first day of the lunar year. In the morning, the elder generation will offer incense and pray for the family's well-being. After that, everyone must drink sweet water, which symbolizes a sweet life and have vegetarian dishes and fruit for dinner, eating together around the table. Eating amaranth is a must every year, because being red symbolizes a "lucky strike".

A READER, Fuzhou, Fujian province

Here in Yunnan we share similar Spring Festival customs to the rest of the country. For example, pasting red couplets, hanging red lanterns and staying up all night on New Year's Eve. However, we do have some unique customs as well. As Spring Festival comes, people will take "ghost money" and incense from place to place and burn them with some blessing words, and then bring stones (which stand for treasure) home in hope of a prosperous New Year. Also, one cannot have a haircut during the first month of the New Year, which is also supposed to ensure happiness and health.

A READER, Kunming, Yunnan province

The way we welcome Spring Festival in rural areas in Shantou, Guangdong province, is quite different from northern China. Almost every village has its own interesting customs, such as a parrot dance, lion-headed goose dance and centipede dance. But what is most impressive is the Buddha worshiping that lasts from the first day of lunar New Year to the Lantern Festival, which makes my hometown suffused with the smell of sandalwood. Hopefully this cultural heritage can be protected.

A READER, Beijing

From the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, people in Zhengding, Hebei province, start to welcome the Chinese New Year by making sweet garlic and cooking rice porridge with rice, beans, nuts and dried fruit. Every home prepares deep-fried pork, sweet potatoes, tofu, and meatballs, storing them separately in the fridge and later using them to cook the traditional Zhengding dishes. On New Year's Eve, the whole family eat dumplings and cookies while watching the Spring Festival gala on TV and setting off fireworks. People visit relatives in the next few days and "scare away" poverty with firecrackers on the fifth day of the lunar New Year.

A READER, Beijing

(China Daily 01/21/2013 page9)

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