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Chinese Spring Festival
Time:  1st day of the 1st lunar month, which falls on January 24 in 2001.

Venue:  All over China

Origin:  Spring Festival originated in the sacrificial ceremony held shortly after the winter solstice during the early Xia Dynasty (21st-16th century BC), when China was still in the primitive society. The ritual was designed to repay the blessings of the god and celebrate bumper harvests. Today, it has become the foremost of all traditional festivals for the Chinese people.

What¡¯s On: Right before the festival sets in, people are already busy grocery shopping, making new clothes, paying tribute to the Kitchen God and ancestors, preparing the family reunion banquet, pasting New Year couplets on gateposts or door panels, and pinning up New Year paintings on walls. During the festival, they visit each other and exchange New Year¡¯s greetings. Firecrackers are let off to liven up the atmosphere. A lot of dining and wining takes place during the festival, and every family make and eat New Year¡¯s cakes (made of glutinous rice flour), dumplings and sweet dumplings. There are dragon, lion, and yangge dances and lantern shows in both urban and rural areas, as merry-makers bid farewell to old year and wish for a good beginning in the new year, exorcise evil spirits and pestilence, and pray for good harvests and good luck in the new year.

Papercuts: During Spring Festival, many families decorate the window panes of their houses with pleasant-looking papercuts portraying Chinese opera characters, flowers, birds, insects and fish.

New Year Couplets: New Year couplets, written on strips of red paper, are a major part of the Chinese Spring Festival custom. On the lunar New Year¡¯s Eve, families in urban and rural areas alike make it a point to grace their gate posts or door panels with couplets composed of two sentences which match each other in sound and sense to express their cherished wishes.

New Year¡¯s Paintings: New Year¡¯s paintings are a branch of Chinese folk art which draws inspirations from such things as bumper harvests, prosperity, landscape, flowers and birds, buffaloes, and babies. During the festival, the Chinese love to pin up a few New Year¡¯s paintings on their living room walls to bid farewell to the old year and greet the new.

Jiaozi: Jiaozi, or dumplings, is a typical Chinese food. It is the habit of people living in north China to celebrate festivals by making and eating dumplings. On New Year¡¯s Eve entire families would gather to chat while preparing dumplings. Afterwards they would stay up late or all night to see the old year out and the New Year in.