Conventions for The Chinese Lunar New Year
After the Chinese Lunar New Year golden week, most people return to their jobs. It seems that the Lunar New Year holiday is over. But according to Cantonese tradition, the Lunar New Year doesn't end until the 15th of the first month of the Lunar Calendar. Cantonese Lunar New Year is becoming increasingly modernized. However, many of the old traditions have been inherited and persist.
The 1st day: Blessed
The 1st day of the Chinese Lunar New Year is called The Initial Day. This day is the beginning of the new spring. On the 1st day, people kill chickens for ancestor worship, and visit each other with their best wishes. At blessing time, seniors (usually the married ones) give lucky packages to juniors, and on this particular day, people do not eat meat in order to pray for a favorable year.
What should be paid attention to is that the 1st day of the lunar calendar is the birthday of the besom god, so people never sweep their homes, as it is believed luck will be swept away. Waste is not allowed to be disposed of for the same reason.
The 2nd day: Wives back home
On the 2nd day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, wives are back at home with their husbands and children. They bring particular food for luck. It is funny that the day is not named 'Wives Day' but 'Husbands Day'. Early in the morning, wives start cooking, and the dinner will be the biggest and most expensive of the New Year. In the countryside of Guangzhou, villagers still keep the tradition of freeing captive animals on that day.
The 3rd day: Keeping quarrels away
On the 3rd day, people do not go out to visit others, because it is said that the 3rd day of the Lunar New Year is the day of quarrels. People, especially seniors, stay at home to keep quarrels away. If someone comes over, the master of the house keeps them out. However, the convention of keeping quarrels away is not so popular among juniors, who like to hang out for fun.
The 4th day: Welcoming the Mammon
It is said that the 5th day of the Lunar New Year is Mammon's birthday. After the 1st day, the most important activity is to welcome the Mammon. The day before the Mammon's birthday, people prepare feasts for him. They arrange different food according to their own preference. If they are not satisfied with the previous year, they only provide a bowl of water and three incense sticks. Those who are happy with the past year will prepare rich food.
The 5th and the 6th days: Enjoying the holiday
All the conventions are nearly finished by the 5th and 6th days, so then is the time to enjoy the holiday. People tend to do their own thing from then on.
The 7th day: The day of everyone
Cantonese usually call the 7th day, the day of everyone. At breakfast, Cantonese have a rich dinner to celebrate the day of everyone. They will have a kind of conjee with 7 ingredients which could include celery, mustard, spinach, scallion and garlic. In old times, young people would select the most beautiful girl during their flower journey (a trip out to look at flowers) and name her the Queen of the day. The one who was selected hosted the whole day's activities.
The 8th day: Staying out
On the 7th day, people go to visit relatives, and they must not go back home before the 8th day is over. Instead they stay at relatives'.
The 9th day: The birthday of the Jade Emperor
On the 9th day, Cantonese traditionally celebrate the birthday of the Jade Emperor.
The 10th day: Fighting in the name of spring
The 11th day: Fighting over
In the local countryside of Guangzhou, children from 2 villages in the neighborhood fight each other with little stones and the winner is blessed with a better new year over the two days. On the 11th day, parents take their children back home.
The 12th day: Lighting
On the 12th day, every home will light their house.
The 15th day: Lantern Festival
The 15th day of the Lunar New Year is the Lantern Festival. Cantonese like to go and look at lanterns. Those who have had male babies in the past year hang a lantern in the ancestral temple to inform their ancestors.
The Lantern Festival launched on the 15th day
of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar
(by Luna Yang, Alan Devey)