Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chinese New Year - 15 days of celebrations

You can find all our posts on Chinese New Year HERE

(Image: Flickr member Brian Yap licensed for use under Creative Commons)

The Chinese great each other throughout the Spring Festival with "Gung Hay Fat Choy", literally translated to "Congratulations, Good Fortune" meaning : Wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.

On New Year's day, doors are thrown open to let in good luck. Throughout the day, it is very important to show good spirits and speak only in a positive manner. The Chinese believe that what happens on this day shows what to expect for the coming year. Scissors and knives aren't to be used, as it's believed this will cut your good luck, therefore all the food eaten should have been prepared ahead of time, with only the need to reheat. Meals are vegetarian for many to ensure longevity. It's also considered bad luck to sweep on this day, otherwise you sweep away your wealth. Lai See are given out to the youngest, while gods, ancestors and family elders are honored.

This 2012 Lunar New Year newsreal reporting on New Year festivities and traditions in Beijing and around the world.

Lunar New Year celebrations last for fifteen days, with various traditions:

2nd Day is Kainian, or Beginning of the New Year. This is the day for married daughters to visit their parents and relatives. It's also a day to be extra kind to dogs, since this is the day to honor all dogs.

3rd Day is Chi Kou (literally "red mouth"), or Day of Dispute. On this day, festivities are put on hold, and it's considered unlucky to have guests or socialize. The Chinese withdraw from others to avoid conflict, stay home to regain inner harmony, pray at temples, and go to bed early.

4th day is when the Kitchen God returns to the home.

5th Day is a day to welcome the God of Wealth. Dumplings or jiaozi are often eaten on this day because they look like ancient Chinese gold ingots. Most people go back to work on this day, and the re-opening of businesses is often accompanied with firecrackers.

7th Day is Renri, and is considered Common Man's Birthday. Everyone grows one year older, and it is common to eat longevity noodles, to bring long life.

8th Day is the eve of the Jade Emperor's birthday, which is celebrated with a family dinner.

9th Day is Ti Kong Dan, the Jade Emperor's Birthday. Offerings and prayers are made to the Jade Emperor.

13th Day is the day to honor General Guan Yu, considered the greatest general in Chinese history, having won over a hundred battles. He represents loyalty, strenght, truth and justice. On this day, people will eat simple, vegetarian foods as a sort of cleansing from all the rich foods eaten over the past thirteen days.

15th Day is the last day of the New Year, and is celebrated as the Lantern Festival. with families walking the streets carrying lighted lanterns.

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