Hi, I am Shan Huang, a Chinese girl doing a PhD at University College Cork.
For Chinese people, Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is the most important holiday of the year. No matter where people go and no matter how far they go, they will go back home enjoying family time during Spring Festival.
For me, it is my favorite festival during the year because it symbolizes unity, prosperity and new hopes for the future. Before the Spring Festival, my family would sweep out our house and decorate the house. One of the house decorations is to post couplets on doors to pray for the peace and happiness of the family.
On New Year Eve, family members will get together for a reunion dinner. During dinner we eat many different traditional dishes and each of them has a special meaning. For example, we eat dumpling, a traditional Chinese food, the shape of which is like gold ingot from ancient China, so people eat them and wish for money and treasure. When making these dumplings, coins and pennies are usually put into selected few, those lucky family members that happen to eat those special dumplings are believed to have special good fortune in the upcoming year. Another must-have dish is fish, as the Chinese phrase “may there be surplus every year” sounds “may there be fish every year”.
Children like the Spring Festival because they can receive Hongbao (a red envelope with gift money in it) from their parents or other seniors, which symbolizes luck and wealth. For adults including myself, watching the CCTV New Year Gala has become a somewhat necessary part of the festival. We also play firecrackers during Spring Festival. Right as the clock strike 12 o’clock midnight of New Year Eve, cities and towns are lit up with the glitter from fireworks, and the sound can be deafening.
This is my second Spring Festival in Ireland. Although I cannot get home and be with my family, I will cook some delicious Chinese food in my apartment and watch the CCTV New Year Gala online with my family!
Happy Chinese New Year to overseas Chinese!