Spring Festival (春节 chūnjié), or Chinese New Year, is fast approaching on January 31. If you’re in China, this means kids are already out of school, department stores are fully decorated with red lanterns and budding trees, shoppers stock up on gift baskets, fruits, and baijiu, the classic white liqueur, and everybody’s already a little bit on vacation, mentally anyway. The preparations really kick up a notch starting today, the beginning of the xiaonian, (小年), the final week before the new year.
If you are in China before or during the Chinese New Year, you will enjoy a festive mood and be able to join in the special preparations and celebrations. Here are a few unique events and festivals you can experience before, during, and after the start of the new year.
茶 Make niangao (sticky new year cake) and dumplings at a traditional folk fair in Tangqi Ancient Village outside of Hangzhou.
茶 Visit the temples of Shanghai to ring the monumental bells for luck and pray for an auspicious year.
茶 Wrap up your Spring Festival at the Lantern Festival, the fifteenth day of the New Year, at Tang Paradise in Xi’an, and take a special walk around the City Wall to enjoy the brightly lit lanterns, towers, and rooftops.
The seven-day official holiday will start on January 31, but, like Christmas or New Year’s in the west, family celebrations really begin with the happy time anticipating the holiday and getting ready. This Year of the Horse (马年 mǎ nián) we say with special excitement, 马上春节回家！(Mǎshàng chūnjié huíjiā) – Very soon Spring Festival will return to our home!
Check back next week as we get ready for the New Year and the release of China Tea Leaves 西安 Xi’an!