Amongst the most remarkable of Chinese customs are those which are observed at New Year time. Chinese New Year generally falls somewhere about the beginning of our February, and is undoubtedly the great festival of the year, the only real holiday enjoyed by the toiling industrious millions scattered over the vast Celestial Empire; for although there are in nearly every month certain holidays which are observed by the better classes with more or less ceremony, it is only at New Year that high and low, rich and poor, put aside for the time their ordinary avocations, and give themselves up without restraint to the due celebration and full enjoyment of the festive time.
Long before the eventful period arrives great preparations are in progress, extra bustle is observable in the streets, and extra animation is apparent in every countenance. The shops — especially the provision - shops — are filled with tempting wares, the display of slaughtered pigs hung up in front of the pork-butchers' being particularly remarkable. Lamps are suspended over doors and windows, and attached to the doorposts and window-frames are long strips of red paper, having boldly inscribed upon them mottoes appropriate to the season : " May the Five Blessings come to this door," "New Year, New Happiness," etc. Business people are particularly active at this period squaring up their accounts, for they consider it de rigueur to pay off all outstanding debts before the old year is out, and thus commence the new year without any arrears, and with a clear conscience. Houses are made clean.
|Description: Taipei, Taiwan. New Year's items being sold at Dihua Market, Taipei, Taiwan. Date: January 8. Author: BCody80|
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Children are in a fever of excitement, for besides the new clothes they are likely to have, are there not wonderful toys to be presented to them, or, better still, to be purchased with their own money, during that much-longed-for stroll through the gay streets which they are to enjoy presently with their father or elder brother as their guide? Fresh ornaments, flowers, and candles are placed round the little shrine which every house possesses, and every tradesman and shopkeeper decorates his signboard with cloth of flaring red —the Chinese festive colour.
At last the happy day dawns. With the first glimpse of light a host of boys, who have been eagerly on the watch for the break of day, commence discharging their huge stock of fireworks ; the fusilade is taken up by the entire row of houses lining the narrow streets, and the New Year is ushered in with a din and uproar which render sleep for the remainder of the morning impossible.
TEXT CREDIT: Title: Among the sons of Han: Notes of a six years' residence in various parts of China and Formosa ... Author: Mrs. Thomas Francis Hughes. Publisher: Tinsley Brothers, 1881. Original from: the University of Michigan. Digitized: Sep 13, 2006. Length 314 pages.
Subjects: China History / Asia / China History / General Taiwan