Chinese New Year began Friday night – it’s a holiday that spreads over several days. You can use the holiday as an excuse to learn a little bit about a new culture and cook up some healthy an delicious stir fry!
Here’s a little bit about the tradition from Wikipedia…
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight.
It is a traditional practice to light fireworks, burn bamboo sticks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits as encapsulated by nian of which the term guo nian was derived. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the days before. On this day, it is considered bad luck to use the broom. Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time to honor one's elders and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.Second day
The second day of the Chinese New Year, known as "beginning of the year" was when married daughters visited their birth parents, relatives and close friends. (Traditionally, married daughters didn't have the opportunity to visit their birth families frequently.) During the days of imperial China, "beggars and other unemployed people circulate[d] from family to family, carrying a picture [of the God of Wealth] shouting, "Cai Shen dao!" [The God of Wealth has come!]." Householders would respond with "lucky money" to reward the messengers. Business people of the Cantonese dialect group will hold a 'Hoi Nin' prayer to start their business on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year so they will be blessed with good luck and prosperity in their business for the year.
The third day is known as "red mouth.” Rural villagers continue the tradition of burning paper offerings over trash fires. It is considered an unlucky day to have guests or go visiting.
In those communities that celebrate Chinese New Year for only two or three days, the fourth day is when corporate "spring dinners" kick off and business returns to normal.
This day is the God of Wealth's birthday. In northern China, people eat jiaozi, or dumplings, on the morning of powu. In Taiwan, businesses traditionally re-open on the next day (the sixth day), accompanied by firecrackers. It is also common in China that on the 5th day people will shoot off firecrackers to get Guan Yu's attention, thus ensuring his favor and good fortune for the new year.
The seventh day, traditionally known as Renri (the common person's birthday), is the day when everyone grows one year older. In some overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Singapore, it is also the day when tossed raw fish salad, yusheng, is eaten for continued wealth and prosperity.
Another family dinner is held to celebrate the eve of the birth of the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heaven. People normally return to work by the eighth day.the Store owners will host a lunch/dinner with their employees, thanking their employees for the work they have done for the whole year.
The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven in the Daoist Pantheon. The ninth day is traditionally the birthday of the Jade Emperor. This day, called Ti Kong Dan, Tiangong Sheng, is especially important to Hokkiens, even more important than the first day of the Chinese New Year.
Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, Hokkiens will offer thanks to the Emperor of Heaven. A prominent requisite offering is sugarcane. Incense, tea, fruit, vegetarian food or roast pig, and gold paper is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honored person.
The Jade Emperor's party is also celebrated on this day.
On the 13th day people will eat pure vegetarian food - in the belief that it will clean out their stomachs - due to consuming too much food over the preceding two weeks.
The fifteenth day of the new year is celebrated as "Yuanxiao Festival.” Rice dumplingstangyuan, a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, are eaten this day. Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. This day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival, and families walk the street carrying lighted lanterns.