Spring Festival Customs in Northeast China (Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang)

2019-11-28    JL.gov

Spring Festival is the most ceremonious festival in China with many traditional customs passed down from the antient times. In the old days, almost all the celebrations aimed at saying goodbye to the old, greeting the new and praying for blessings were held on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

An ancestor worship ceremony will be held on the eve of the Spring Festival. Following the ceremony is a family banquet, with the elder members of the family taking the seat of honor, while the younger ones siting around to form a circle meaning "Reunion". The New Year’s Eve meal must be sumptuous, giving people the feeling of being full, indicating that they will be well fed and prosperous in the coming year. This meal is the first taste of new year's dishes. During the dinner, the old and the young sending good wishes to each other, the brothers toasting time and again, all are enjoying the happiness of the family.

After the meal, the children spread sesame stalks all over the courtyard, which will produce a cracking sound when people walk on them. The activity is called "stepping on the year". Then they light up the lights hanging indoors and outdoors together, which illuminates indoors and outdoors. All people, be it men or women, old or young, remain sleepless all night and engage in all kinds of recreational activities, which is called "guarding the year". Children are free to play and enjoy snacks such as fresh fruits and dried fruits.

At midnight, sound waves of firecrackers declare the end of the old year, and the arrival of the new year. The whole family say "happy new year" to each other. The younger generation kowtow to the elder generation and the elder generation gave "lucky money" to younger children. Then the whole family has another meal of vegetarian dumplings, known as "before-dawn dumplings" and "reunion dumplings". Only one of nearly 100 dumplings contains a coin. The one who eats it will have good luck in the new year.

Many similar traditional customs about Spring Festival are still preserved today and has become part of Jilin People's "new year culture".