Chinese New Year is the longest and most important Chinese holiday. In the weeks leading up to the two-week holiday, several traditional activities are necessary to do in order to properly prepare for Chinese New Year.
Have a Thank You Dinner to Kitchen God:Lunar Dec. 24 (Jan. 16, 2012)
A special dinner is held for the Kitchen God in which Chinese families gather to eat a meal of glutinous rice or sticky rice balls served in sugary syrup. An extra bowl of food is placed in front of a picture of the Kitchen God. After dinner, the picture is burned and the Kitchen God goes back to heaven. During Chinese New Year festivities, a new picture of the Kitchen God will replace the old one.
Go to the Flower Market:Lunar Dec. 26 (Jan. 17, 2012)
Visiting traditional flower markets is a must in the week prior to Chinese New Year. Flowers, traditional Chinese New Year snacks, decorations like chun lian and other items are for sale. These markets are where Chinese stock up on flowers, orange trees, snacks, and decorations for Chinese New Year.
In Hong Kong, children who are doing poorly in school are taken to walk around the flower market. Through the practice of Mai Lan, it is believed the children will no longer be lazy and work harder in the New Year. Flowers are bought to not only decorate the home but to help unmarried people find lovers or welcome prosperity in the New Year.
Dried snacks, including those used to make a tray of togetherness, are on sale with vendors offering free samples of dried meats, peanuts, dried fruits and tea. As Chinese New Year gets closer, the bustling markets get more crowded and rowdy.
Sweep the House:Lunar Dec. 28 (Jan. 19, 2012)
Before Chinese New Year comes, each family will thoroughly clean their home. Every nook and cranny will be scrubbed, old furniture thrown out, and the floor will be swept. It is important that the floor is swept toward the door as this is symbolic of sweeping away all misfortune. Some families also prepare their home by following Chinese New Year feng shui practices.
After a thorough cleaning, the house will not be cleaned during the beginning of Chinese New Year as this might cause good fortune to be swept away. New Chinese New Year decorations, or chun lian, are placed along the sides and top of the front door.