Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese calendar. In China, it is known as Spring Festival. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.
The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar, and ends with Lantern Festival on the 15th day. Chinese New Year’s Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as Chúxī or “Eve of the Passing Year.” Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year.”
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the new year vary widely. The celebration can include Dragon dances/Lion dances, fireworks, family gatherings, visiting friends and relatives, giving red envelopes, decorating with duilian. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It’s traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of good fortune, wealth, happiness and longevity.
On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a family feast. Traditionally, the menu includes pork, duck, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family ends the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, then receive money in red paper envelopes.
Dragon and lion dances are common during Chinese New Year. It is believed that the loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively can evict bad or evil spirits.
Red is the predominant colour used in New Year celebrations. Red is the emblem of joy, and symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. On the Chinese opera stage, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes a great emperor. Candies, cakes, decorations and many things associated with the New Year and its ceremonies are coloured red. The sound of the Chinese word for “red” ( 紅, hóng) is “hong” in Mandarin (Hakka: Fung; Cantonese: Hoong) which also means “prosperous.” Therefore, red is an auspicious colour with an auspicious sound.
Chinese New Year is observed as a public holiday in a number of countries and territories where a sizable Chinese population resides. Since Chinese New Year falls on different dates on the Gregorian calendar every year on different days of the week, some of these governments opt to shift working days in order to accommodate a longer public holiday. Also like many other countries in the world, a statutory holiday is added on the following work day when the New Year falls on a weekend.
Thanks to Wikipedia for much of the content regarding Chinese New Year.