Chinese New Year 2014_the year of the horse“It’s getting dark in Tianjin, China with about six hours to go before the Lunar New Year.  As we approach the Year of the Horse the buildup is gradual but steady as the level of excitement is reflected in the dull roar of continuous fireworks echoing through the city that gradually builds to an indescribable intensity as the night roars on.”  It’s so difficult to describe in mere words the experience of Chinese New Year.

Also referred to as the Lunar New Year, it marks the beginning of Spring Festival, an extraordinary holiday that lasts for about a month and is celebrated across Asia and other parts of the world.  Although the Chinese now use the same Gregorian Calendar as most of the western part of the world, the Lunar New Year and start of Spring Festival is a time to celebrate and be with one’s family.

Nian and the color redAccording to ancient legend, the color red is used to scare away the mythical beast Nian and is hung on doors to protect the family. Nian represents all that is terrible and the tradition is to use fireworks and the color red to scare away the badness the beast brings.

The dramatic highlight of the first night of the Spring Festival is the demonstration of the Chinese passion for fireworks. Fireworks were invented by the Chinese and are used to mark just about any celebration from the birth of a new child to weddings to restaurant openings. It’s common for fireworks to be heard every night in most large Chinese cities but the celebrations during Spring Festival are legendary.

Modern Chinese Spring Festival is a time to be with your family and a time to rid the Nian of the past and celebrate the hope of a brighter future. If you ever have the opportunity to experience the intensity of the Chinese New Year celebrations and Spring Festival, it’s certainly worth going.