The Spring Festival is the year’s most important event in China, but people from the north and south celebrate with different traditions.
Food traditions in China in the north and south
People from the northern part of China typically eat dumplings as their special dinner during Spring Festival. Families and friends get together during the first week to make dumplings. Sometimes people put a coin in one of the dumplings, for luck. The person who eats the lucky dumpling will have fortune in the coming year. Though, we hope they don’t crack a tooth on the coin.
People from the southern part of China eat Niangao as their special dinner. Niangao is a type of rice pudding made of glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, salt, water and sugar.
The pronunciation of Niangao is a homophone for a word that means “a more prosperous year”.
The famous and pervasive red envelopes seen everywhere during Spring Festival
During Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, elder Chinese family members usually prepare red envelopes for children and younger family members.
The red envelopes, also called Hongbao, symbolize good luck and are believed to help ward off evil spirits. In South China, red envelopes are given by the married to the unmarried.
In the northern parts of China, red envelopes are given by elders to children and teenagers.
Anticipation builds during Xiaonian, an eve before Spring Festival
People in both the south and north of China celebrate Xiaonian, which is considered an eve of Spring Festival.
In the north, people celebrate on the 23rd day of the year’s last lunar month, but people from the southern part of China usually celebrate the Xiaonian Festival the night before Lunar New Year’s eve.
The hugely popular and televised Spring Festival Gala
The Spring Festival Gala, also known as Chunwan, is a Chinese New Year special televised nationwide on Chinese Central Television.
The extravaganza has been called the most watched television program in the world. In the southern part of China, people usually have many other celebrations during the live broadcast time of the Gala, such as the first burning of incense and lighting of fireworks.