China News Service, Beijing, February 10 (Reporter Shangguan Yun) The Spring Festival is one of the most important festivals of the Chinese nation. During the Spring Festival, many seemingly ordinary customs, such as going home to reunite with relatives, having New Year’s Eve dinner, paying New Year greetings, visiting relatives and friends, all express people’s expectations for a better future.

  "The sound of firecrackers marks the end of the year, and the spring breeze brings warmth to Tusu." He Shaoya, a lecturer at the School of Sociology at Beijing Normal University, told a reporter from China News Service that the Spring Festival in the broad sense includes two periods before and after the year, and the Spring Festival in the narrow sense refers to the first day of the first lunar month. . As for the delicacies during the Spring Festival, there are rice cakes, glutinous rice balls, dumplings, etc.

  Data map: Tenglong lanterns appear on the old streets in the south of Nanjing to create a festive atmosphere for the New Year. Photo by China News Service reporter Yang Bo

  He Shaoya mentioned that not long ago, China’s Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) was designated as a United Nations holiday. This is a signal that the Spring Festival will go global. In the future sustainable development of world society, the Spring Festival will also play a more important role as a cultural bridge.

How did the Spring Festival come about?

  Historically, the Spring Festival was also called "Xin Zheng", "Yuan Day", "New Year's Day", "Zheng Dan", etc. The emergence of the Spring Festival is closely related to the formation of the concept of the ancient calendar year. As early as three generations ago, people had already grasped the concept of the time cycle of "year".

  As the saying goes, "Xia is called Sui, Shang is called Sacrifice, Zhou is called Nian, and Tang and Yu are called Zai." The Xia Dynasty called the year "Sui" and used the harvest of crops as the annual time cycle. The Zhou Dynasty inherited the timekeeping tradition of the Xia Dynasty, using the eleventh month of the lunar calendar as the first month of the year, and called the annual cycle nian.

  In the narrow sense, the Spring Festival refers to the first day of the first lunar month. New Year's Eve and Spring Festival are two consecutive days. As the saying goes, "One night is two years old, and the fifth watch is divided into two years." It refers to the New Year's Eve custom of staying up late on New Year's Eve and saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.

What is the theme of the Spring Festival?

  The festival theme and cultural connotation of the Spring Festival are mainly considered from three aspects: first, family reunion, second, saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new, and third, praying for blessings and good luck.

  Reunion is the main spiritual connotation of the Spring Festival. On New Year's Eve, people eat New Year's Eve dinner, sit together and watch the New Year, and enjoy family happiness; after the Spring Festival, people visit relatives and friends, pay greetings, and reunite with relatives and friends; across time and space, with the help of modern new media, the world The sons and daughters of China share the great national reunion.

  Saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new is the theme of the New Year's ceremony. On New Year's Eve, people welcome the new year with firecrackers; after the new year, they receive sacrifices to gods, worship ancestors, pay New Year's greetings and celebrate, entering a new journey of life.

  Pasting Spring Festival couplets, hanging New Year pictures, pasting window grilles, pasting blessing characters, visiting temple fairs, dragon lantern dances... These customs are full of gratitude and joy for the past year, as well as people's longing and dreams for the new year.

  Data map: The picture shows citizens choosing Spring Festival couplets in a supermarket. Photo by China News Service reporter Zhou Yi

"New Year", what does it mean?

  The Spring Festival is an important traditional festival. In the first year of Taichu, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty officially determined that the first month of the lunar calendar would be the beginning of the year. Since then, although the calendar has been constantly revised and changed, the time of the first month of the year has remained unchanged, and the New Year's Day has been fixed.

  People are often used to saying "Celebrating the New Year", and "Celebrating the New Year" is reflected in the word "Guo", which refers to the process of people busy welcoming the New Year and celebrating the New Year happily.

  In a broad sense, the Spring Festival includes two periods before and after the new year. The period of celebrating the New Year is generally calculated from the twelfth lunar month. The date of the twelfth lunar month was uncertain before the Wei and Jin Dynasties. In the Southern Dynasties, it was fixed on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month.

  Since then, people usually regard the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month as the beginning of the new year. Some people also start from offering sacrifices to the stove (usually the 23rd lunar month in the north and the 24th twelfth lunar month in the south) until the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.

Why was the exorcism ceremony held at the end of the year in ancient times?

  Since the pre-Qin Dynasty, people have carried out Nuo activities to drive away epidemics at the end of the year. The time for exorcism is either the day before the twelfth lunar month, the day of the twelfth lunar month, or before New Year's Eve. It is a year-end theme activity.

  There are two essential instruments for the exorcism ceremony - drums and masks. Beat the Nuo drum and shake the heaven and earth; put on the mask and use gods to drive away the epidemic.

  Although folk exorcism is not so grand, it has always been passed down. The exorcism of Nuo at the end of the Song Dynasty has gradually evolved into Nuo opera, with gongs and drums being beaten and Nuo dances performed routinely in both urban and rural areas.

  After the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Nuo dance became more performative, more secular, and less religious. Exorcism has also gradually been integrated into other annual customs. For example, in some places, it is combined with sweeping dust at the end of the year.

Why were firecrackers burned in ancient times?

  "Celebrating the New Year with great success" is the definition of the New Year by the lively Chinese people.

  Data map: The picture shows the colorful dragon lantern corridor. Photo by Chen Yingqing

  One theory is that firecrackers originated from ancient religious beliefs. People believe that the sound of firecrackers and other sounds can drive away evil spirits. Zong Mao's "Jingchu Years' Records" records that on the first day of the first lunar month, "roosters rose up to crow and firecrackers were fired in front of the court" to drive away plague ghosts.

  The firecrackers at that time were real "firecrackers". The bamboo tubes were placed in the fire and grilled. The bamboo tubes exploded due to the heat expansion. Gunpowder and firecrackers appeared in the Song Dynasty. The ancients believed that setting off firecrackers not only brought a joyful New Year atmosphere, but also drove away plagues.

When did the custom of "New Year greetings" become popular?

  Some people believe that the tradition of New Year greetings originated from the custom of paying New Year greetings on the first day of the Han Dynasty. Before the Han Dynasty, the custom of folk sacrifices and celebrations was mainly held on the twelfth day of the twelfth lunar month and the last day of the twelfth lunar month. Later, it was moved to the first day of the year.

  According to relevant records in Cui Shi's "Four People's Monthly Orders" of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the content of New Year's greetings at that time mainly included offering sacrifices to ancestors, paying homage to elders, and paying congratulations to clan members, relatives, and parties, etc.

  To this day, people still pay New Year greetings in the same way. First, they reunite within the family, and they also need to respect their ancestors and elders. After completing the family reunion, people began to pay New Year greetings to relatives, friends, neighbors and folks according to their distance.

What are the delicacies during the Spring Festival?

  Including dumplings, there are quite a lot of delicacies during the Spring Festival.

  Data map: Dumplings are one of the “protagonists” during the Chinese New Year. Photo by Li Dian

  For example, some places eat glutinous rice balls during the Chinese New Year, which symbolizes reunion. Spring rolls are generally considered to be a seasonal food at the beginning of spring, but they are also eaten during the Chinese New Year in the Jiangnan region, which means welcoming the spring.

  Glutinous rice cake is a festival food in Hubei and Hunan. At the end of every year, people are busy soaking glutinous rice and preparing to make glutinous rice cakes. Generally speaking, you need to soak the glutinous rice first, steam it in a rice cooker, pour it into a stone mortar while it is hot, and mash the cooked glutinous rice.

  After that, take out the mashed glutinous rice balls and spread them flat on a dustpan or chopping board. After cooling, cut them into rounds or rectangles, or grill them, fry them, or boil them. They are equally delicious. Glutinous rice cake is also a good treat for entertaining guests.

What’s the point of eating rice cakes?

  In early society, sticky rice cakes were used as offerings to gods, and later gradually became the iconic food of the New Year. Eating rice cakes during the Chinese New Year means getting better and better every year.

  Farmers in Gaomi, Shandong, usually use millet flour to make rice cakes. The noodles are mixed with water and spread flat on a large plate, then steamed in a pot. Then, pat it into a two or three centimeter thick cake with your hands, pat it flat and add red dates. After cooling, cut it into squares and store it. It can be cut into thin slices and steamed during the New Year. The most important use is to offer sacrifices to the stove on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month. and making offerings to the gods during the Chinese New Year.

  Suzhou rice cake is made of glutinous rice flour. The making and eating methods are vividly described in this poem, "Cherish the inscription on the cake, and the scenery will be another year."

Why is the seventh day of the first lunar month "Human Day"?

  Human Day is also called "Human Festival" and "Human Seventh Day". According to records: "The first day of the first month is chicken, the second day is dog, the third day is pig, the fourth day is sheep, the fifth day is cow, the sixth day is horse, and the seventh day is human."

  As for the reason why seven days were designated as human days in ancient times, there is no clear explanation in historical documents. According to folklore, after Nuwa created chickens, dogs, pigs, sheep, cows and horses on the first six days, she created humans on the seventh day, so this day is the birthday of humans.

  In the long-term historical inheritance, Renri has accumulated rich local culture, such as customs such as cutting ribbons and hoopoe, climbing mountains, and eating Qibao soup.

How to inherit festival culture?

  He Shaoya believes that from the perspective of the Spring Festival inheritance principle, the main inheritance subjects of the Spring Festival should be communities, groups, and individuals, with ordinary inheritors of Spring Festival culture as the main body.

  At the same time, in the context of globalization and urbanization, attention should be paid to improving the public cultural attributes of the Spring Festival so that the Spring Festival can be shared by more people. It is necessary to fully pay attention to and inherit the cultural core of the Spring Festival, and ensure the stable duration of the Spring Festival holiday.

  In addition, attention should be paid to the construction and promotion of the Spring Festival cultural symbol system. Iconic festival objects and activities are an important basis for the stable inheritance of the festival. We must respect and treat existing Spring Festival symbols with caution, such as Spring Festival couplets, window grilles, lucky money, etc., and consciously build Spring Festival symbols and cultural activities that adapt to modern life. Such as red lanterns, Chinese knots, watching New Year movies, reading books and exhibitions, etc., allowing people to enjoy the Spring Festival and consciously inherit the Spring Festival. (over)