How Do The Chinese Celebrate The New Year?


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For thousands of years the Chinese have considered the New Year the most festive season on their calendar. Though the Chinese officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1912, the solar new year on January 1 is by no means as popular as the lunar new year. For instance, on the solar new year most firms and offices have only one day off, but during the lunar New Year festival they are closed for three or four days, some even up to a week. The Chinese lunar new year falls on the first new moon after the sun enters the zodiacal house of Aquarius, which may be anytime from January 21 to February 19.

At midnight firecrackers are set off everywhere, welcoming in the new year. During the following days the sound of firecrackers is almost constant. However, in 1968 the people in Hong Kong enjoyed probably their first quiet New Year. The government banned firecrackers, since the local communists had been using the gunpowder in firecrackers to make bombs.
Besides being a time for family reunions, New Year is also a time to visit friends and relatives. On the first and second days of the new year, whole families can be seen going from place to place visiting. In addition to gifts, they carry a generous supply of red packets with varying amounts of money in them to distribute to children. Understandably, these red packets are very popular with children, as this provides them with a little money to buy candies and toys. In theory, any unmarried person is entitled to receive red packets, but in practice very few single grown-ups accept them.

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