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Chinese New Year Celebrations
 History of Chinese New Year  Before Chinese New Year’s Celebration  Celebrations on New Year’s Eve  15-Day Celebration of CNY

___ History of Chinese New Year

The origins of the Chinese New Year festival are thousands of years old and are steeped in legends but it is unclear when the beginning of the year was celebrated before the Qin Dynasty.
 

A small scale Spring Festival is said to have been celebrated as early as at the time of the legendary sage-emperors Yao and Shun.
Historically, various Chinese dynasties celebrated the Spring Festival in different ways, and at times influenced each other and added certain customs and traditions to it.

The Spring Festival is supposed to have been initiated in the Shang Dynasty (Chinese: 商朝; Pinyin: Shāng cháo) and the custom of ancestor worship was included in the festivities.
During the Western Zhou Dynasty (Chinese: 西周, Pinyin: Xī zhōu), it was custom to begin agriculture on New Year celebration.

During the Han Dynasty (Chinese: 漢朝; Pinyin: Hàn cháo), the formation of the rituals became popular, including ceremonial gathering and the use of 'fireworks' in the form of burning bamboo started to appear during the celebrations. Due to thermal expansion when bamboo with its cavity is on fire, it bursts and makes a loud bang and hence is regarded as 'early firework'.

During the Cao Wei (Chinese:曹魏; Pinyin: Cáo wèi) and Jin Dynasties (Chinese: 晋朝; Pinyin: Jìn cháo) the practice of shou sui (Chinese: 守岁, Pinyin: shǒusuì, translated: guarding age or guarding the year) became popular as well as the use of firecrackers. Shou sui is the gathering and staying together during the time between the change of the years.

Displaying riddles on lanterns during the Lantern Festival became popular during the Tang Dynasty (Chinese: 唐朝; pinyin: Táng cháo) and solving the riddles on the lanterns is known as caidengmi (traditional Chinese: 猜燈謎; pinyin: cāidēngmí).

In the Song Dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; Pinyin: Sòng cháo) hollowed bamboo poles firecrackers became loaded with gunpowder. Gunpowder was discovered in China in the Tang Dynasty by Taoist monks-alchemists searching for an elixir of immortality.
Emperor Taizu of the Northern Song Dynasty was presented with the first gunpowder - impregnated fire arrows in 969 AD.
Since the Southern Song Dynasty (Chinese: 南宋; pinyin: Nán sòng) fishermen along the coast of Guangzhou started to establish the tradition of eating the yusheng dish on renri, the 7th day of the Chinese New Year celebration.

read on: Chinese Customs around Chinese New Year’s Celebration
 


 
Note: Chinese New Year is celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, and as well in cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction, these include the culture of Bhutan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Taiwan, Vietnam, and formerly Japan before 1873.
Chinese New Year is also celebrated in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations, but it is not part of the traditional culture of these countries.
 

See also: China | Hong Kong | Macau | Tibet

History of China

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