Culture & Politics

Year of the Tiger

New Year’s Eve is the biggest celebration in the Chinese culture. Every household decorates with lanterns and ribbons, as shops large and small are full of couplets to welcome the New Year. Houses are cleaned, new clothes are purchased and everyone works to prepare the New Year feast. While the whole celebration takes place over 16 days – it is New Year’s Eve – ushering out the Year of the Rat in preparation for the Year of the Ox that is the culmination of all the preparations.

Family is core to the New Year celebration and while we may not be able to get together this year – we will certainly honor all the traditions.
Every year, New Year’s Eve is the busiest day in our family. In the afternoon, family members, young and old come together to prepare for the feast together. All the family members are united, the adults are busy cooking and the children are busy playing. The ninety-year-old grandmother looks at her children and grandchildren with a happy smile and her heart filled with love.

The New Year’s Eve feast starts! The table is filled with all kinds of delicacies including tangy pork ribs, glistening mitten crabs, stirred shrimp and yanduxian soup flavored with fresh bamboo shoots. Everyone can’t wait to dig in! Cold dishes, hot pots and dim sum are among the dozens of dishes that create a memorable Chinese New Year dinner. Fish dishes are always an important part of the meal as fish symbolizes the promise of a bountiful new year.  

We kick off the feast by raising our glasses to wish grandma a fortune as immense as the East China Sea and longevity as long as the existence of the Southern Mountain. Then we wish the children good health and academic success. The blessings from relative to relative echo in the dining room, bringing warmth, comfort, and happiness to our hearts

For children, the happiest part of New Year’s Eve has to be collecting New Year gifts in red envelopes. Red symbolizes happiness and good fortune. Adults distribute red envelopes to the children as a gesture to bless them with good luck and success. The amount of money in the red envelope is not important, what is important is the intent of the blessing.

After the conclusion of the feast, everyone gathers to watch the Chinese New Year’s Gala Show broadcast throughout China and around the world. The show started on Chinese New Year’s Eve of 1983, when hundreds of millions of Chinese audiences who had just ushered in the reform and development were sitting around the TV, watching a collection of songs, dances, comedic plays and acrobats perform in an elaborate showcase of culture, history and skill.

The Spring Festival Gala shoulders the responsibility of uniting Chinese everywhere in this world. Every year, the Chinese community watches with pride and astonishment at the feats performed by these amazingly talented artists.

Many people in the Chinese culture, like my husband and I are followers of Buddhism. So, every New Year’s Eve we go to the temple to pray for fortune. Although the weather on New
Year’s Eve is often cold and windy, the temple is crowded with the warmth of community. Everyone holds an incense in their hands as a
representation of peace. The congregation gathers to pray to various Buddhas and Gods while waiting for the New Year bell to ring.

At midnight, as the sacred and sonorous bell rings through the night, marking the first note of the new day and the new year. The melodious bell peal like spring thunder piercing space and time, dispersing across rivers north and south, resounding across the sky. It heralds another auspicious beginning, it brings a cheering smile to everyone’s faces,
and it represents a dawn promised with dreams and hope! All the worshippers hang their red wishing bands on the trees, wishing each other a Happy Tiger Year. The Tiger represents courage, self-confidence and strength.

At this time, the streets and alleys are full of crackling firecrackers and colorful fireworks illuminating the sky!

When we get back from the temple grandma brings out her handmade dumplings.

The celebration of the new year represents home and Chinese families are inspired by this sense of family and hope. Every year, sons and daughters return home to carry on the tradition that has been celebrated for over 3000 years.

While this New Year, much like last year – will not be celebrated with families gathering all together – the spirit and significance of the day will continue to hold so much meaning for everyone as we look forward to celebrate once again in person.


“新年好呀,新年好呀……”伴随着动听的儿歌,我们迎来了牛年最后一个晚上 ——除夕夜。家家户户张灯结彩,大大小小的商店都挂满了对联,迎接着新年 的到来。

下午时分,大伯二伯姑姑家就陆陆续续来我们家一起准备年夜饭了。每年 的今天,是我们家最热闹的,十几口人团圆在一起,大人们忙着做菜,孩子们 你追我打,九十岁高龄的奶奶看着儿孙满堂,尽是笑颜逐开。

年夜饭开启,餐桌上摆满了各式各样的美味佳肴:酸甜可口的糖醋排骨, 红的冒油的大闸蟹,油澄澄的虾仁,香味飘逸的腌笃鲜汤里飘着鲜笋,香菇, 让人馋涎欲滴。冷盆,热菜加点心,几十道菜里必不可少的是双鱼,代表“年年 有余”。大家举杯先祝福奶奶福如东海,寿比南山;再祝小朋友们身体健康,学 业有成。亲人们互相祝福,一句句祝福语在餐厅回荡,一阵陈暖流流进心窝。

对于孩子们来说,除夕夜最开心的莫过于收压岁钱了。收压岁钱也可以说 是收红包,因为红色象征愉快与好运。大人们分派红包给未成年的晚辈,是把 祝愿与好运带给他们。红包里的钱多少都不重要,重要的是这份祝福。

接着,大家一边观看新年晚会节目,一边喝茶嗑瓜子守岁。新年晚会自 1983年除夕起,那时候刚刚迎来改革开发的中国亿万观众围坐在电视机旁,收 看一合集歌舞相声小品等多种艺术形式于一体的“茶座式”综艺联欢晚会。这对 于当时文化生活匮乏娱乐方式单一的中国百姓来说,无疑是一场精神上的饕餮 盛宴。如今的春晚,肩负着凝聚起世界华人情感;展示中华文明博大精深内涵 的使命,一次次给全球华人观众带来期待与惊艳。

我们夫妇是佛教信徒,所以每年除夕夜便会前往寺庙进香祈福。除夕夜的 寺庙虽然寒风凛凛,但是人头攒动,个个手中拿着点燃的平安香,一边祈福一 边等待着新年钟声的响起。临近午夜,随着寺庙里神圣洪亮的钟声响起,那是 东方破晓的第一缕璀璨的阳光,是新年伊始奏响的第一曲优美音符,是新的一 日之晨的盛典。那悠扬的钟声,尤如春雷穿过时空的遂道,传遍了大江南北, 响彻云霄万里。它预示的是又一个轮回的吉祥开始,它带给的是人们的一个个 欢欣鼓舞的笑容,它彰显在人们面前的是一个个充满梦想与希望的曙光!所有 的信徒们纷纷把红色的许愿条挂在高树上,互道牛年快乐!此时的大街小巷, 到处是噼里啪啦的炮竹声和千姿百态的烟花漫天飞舞,真是火树银花不夜天啊 !

回到家里,奶奶已经把热腾腾的手工饺子端上来了,这是除夕夜必备的宵夜 了。除夕夜的这顿饺子之所以非比寻常,一是因为腊月三十夜的23时至新年正 月初一的1时,正好交子时,取“更岁交子”之意,“子”为“子时”,交与“饺”谐音, 有“喜庆团圆”和“吉祥如意”的意思。

过年的时候,家就是年夜饭,年夜饭就是家。这就是我们中华儿女回家过年 的精神动力,这种精神动力已经传承了三千年,它将伴随着中华民族的繁衍生 息千秋万代的传承下去!

Lin Shen is a successful entrepreneur, writer and artist who works with a variety of philanthropic endeavors. ... She is the co-founder of a leading apparel manufacture in shanghai, china.