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Things for Spring Festival - Meal, Couplets and Paintings

Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. All the traditional festivals in China are based on the Chinese lunar calendar. The Spring Festival marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year. There're many things came from the customs of the Spring Festival, for instance, New year meal, couplets and paintings. 

New Year Meal
Since the Sping Festival marks the first day of a brand new year, the first meal is rather important. People from north and south have different food eat on this special day. In Northern China, people usually eat Jiaozi or dumplings shaped like a crescent moon. It is said that dumplings were first known in China some 1,600 years ago. Its Chinese pronunciation Jiaozi means midnight or the end and the beginning of time. While in south, people eat the New Year Cake which is made of glutinous rice or millet flour and garnished with anything from bean to jujube paste, assorted fruits and preserves. The New Year Cake is called Nian Gao in Chinese. It conveys the hope of improvement in life year after year. In additon to Jiaozi and New Year Cakes, other common foods for the first meal of the Spring Festival are noodles and Tangtuan, a kind of round sweet dumplings. 

New Year Couplets
New Year couplets, written on strips of red paper, are a major part of the Chinese Spring Festival custom. Every year when the Spring Festival is coming, households in the country and town put spring festival distiches onto the door or wall facing the door in the sitting room. This is done to express the people's wish for a peaceful and happy new year. The custom originated from ancient times when people were ignorant of the law of the nature. They couldn't explain such events as droughts, floods, earthquakes and accidents in a scientific way. They believed that it was the devils that brought them misfortunes. They also believed the devils could be avoided or driven away in a magic way. So at the beginning of each year, each family would hang two peach boards on both sides of the entrance into the house. The figures of gods carved on the boards were said to be powerful to prevent the devils from entering the house. By Five Dynasties (907-960), someone in the royal court began to write distiches on paper instead of carving or drawing pictures or writing incantations. The lines are vertically arranged with the same length.

New Year’s Paintings
New Year’s paintings are a branch of Chinese folk art which draws inspirations from such things as bumper harvests, prosperity, landscape, flowers and birds, buffaloes, and babies. During the festival, the Chinese love to pin up a few New Year’s paintings on their living room walls to bid farewell to the old year and greet the new.

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