Lunar New Year's Eve

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, January 7, 2009
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New Year pictures, as their name implies, are made especially to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday. With the coming of Spring Festival, these pictures appear in households throughout the nation, their bold outlines and vibrant colors adding to the excitement of the holiday season. New Year pictures are an ancient Chinese folk art, reflecting the customs and beliefs of the common people and symbolizing their hopes for the future. New Year pictures, like Spring Festival couplets, trace their origins to China's ancient door gods. After a certain point, however, these pictures were no longer limited to depicting the various protective deities, and became increasingly rich and colorful. Among the common subjects of New Year pictures are "A Surplus Every Year," "Peace Year After Year," "Blessings from Heaven," "An Abundance of Grain," "Flourishing Livestock," and "Spring Comes with Good Fortune."

Papercuts made from lucky red paper are often pasted in windows and on doors to celebrate Spring Festival. Papercutting is an extremely popular Chinese folk art. Papercuts usually draw their subject matter from legend, opera, and the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. Bold and expressive, they depict a range of lucky themes and beautiful dreams, adding color and verve to the celebratory spirit of Spring Festival.

The character "fu" means happiness and good fortune. It is as often used as a decoration during Spring Festival, expressing the hope for good fortune and a bright future in the coming year. In order to emphasize the significance of this character, it is often pasted on the door upside down. This is meant to cause visitors to remark, "Your fu is upside down," which is an exact homonym for the auspicious phrase, "good fortune has arrived."

In addition to door gods, Spring Festival couplets, New Year pictures, and papercuts, many families also paste up special decorations known as menjian on Lunar New Year's Eve for good luck. Made out of red or colored paper, these decorations consist of papercuts plus auspicious sayings, with a fringed bottom. Today, instead of the traditional menjian, many people put up "Chinese knots," a type of decoration made out of red cord tied into lucky designs.

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