Every year around this time, e-cig suppliers in the US are sent into a panic. Chinese New Year will soon be upon us. For us, it means huge delays in shipping times and production runs for some of the most popular products. Kanger, Innokin, Aspire, Joytech, all are located in China, and it’s a time for celebration. This holiday is unique in that it’s fifteen days long. Factories shut down as people usher in a new year of good fortune and health. Today, we’re going to look at some of the traditions surrounding this holiday.
Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, begins on February 8th this year, but not always. It is determined by the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar. For them, the New Year begins on the new moon, between January 21st and February 20th. The origin of the festival is said to stem from the legend of a beast known as Nian. Nian would come to a village and eat people. They would put out food for the beast in the belief that it would leave people alone. One day, a villager wanted to be rid of the beast once and for all, so he asked the gods for help. One told him to put red paper on his house and light fireworks. It turns out Nian was afraid of the color red and frightened by the sound of firecrackers. Nian never returned to their village. This is why you will see so much red during a festival, and fireworks have extended to warding away any bad spirits in general.
There are traditional activities for each day leading up to and through the holiday. In the days leading up to the event, people go through a “spring cleaning” of sorts to sweep away any bad luck or misfortune. Purchasing new clothing, getting a haircut, and settling any debts are all common practices meant to say “out with the old, in with the new.” They are sure to put the brooms away on the first day of the festival though, lest they sweep away the good fortune recently bestowed.
On the eve of the holiday they have a large familial feast (similar to our Thanksgiving) known as “Nian Ye Fan.” It is held at the most senior member of the family’s house, and eight dishes are served because of the good fortune associated with the number. It is very common to give gifts of money in a red envelope, usually from married couples to unmarried couples, throughout the whole festival but particularly on this day. The envelopes are placed under one’s pillow until seven nights after the new year when it is opened.
The first day is probably what you imagine when you think of the holiday. Massive firework displays, lion dances, and large gatherings in the street all meant to scare away bad spirits. It is also a day to visit with older generations of family, usually grandparents and great-grandparents. On the second day, married daughters visit their birth families (something that didn’t happen often in older times). Others pray to their ancestors. It is also believed to be the birthday of all dogs, and they are awarded with a special treat, even strays! One the third day, people burn paper offerings and refrain from having guests or visiting people as it is considered unlucky. The fourth day is basically a continuation of the previous day, some businesses return to normal operation. On the fifth day, it is traditional to consume dumplings and it is no longer bad luck to sweep the floor. The sixth day is a day for visiting temples, friends and relatives. The seventh day is called Renri, which translates to Human Day and stems from a story of how humans came to be. It is considered the birthday of all common or ordinary men and they grow a year older. Usually vegetarian dishes are consumed to honor Nuwa, who created animals. The eighth day is another family dinner, and the eve of the birth of the Jade Emperor. At midnight, they pray to him and offer sugarcane. On the ninth day people set up a layered table of offerings and sacrifices for the Jade Emperor and the deities below him. The tenth is the day of the Jade Emperor’s party and more feasts are carried out from here to the twelfth day. On the thirteenth day, they eat vegetarian food to cleanse their systems from all the feasting of previous days. The day is also dedicated to Guan Yu, a great general who is considered the Chinese God of War. Due to his victories on the battlefield people look to him as the god of success. The fourteenth day is preparation for the Lantern Festival which brings us to the fifteenth day. On this day, candles are lit outside of houses and people walk the streets with lanterns. The lights are believed to guide wayward spirits home. They also consume a sweet rice ball called tangyuan, which represents the full moon that is upon them. It is also a day for people to look for romantic partners, not unlike our Valentine’s Day. There is a tradition where girls put their contact number on an orange and throw it into water where the men later retrieve them. If the taste is sweet it will be a happy relationship.
That marks the end of the holiday. The unity, traditions, and decorations on display during this time are truly awe-inspiring and unlike any holidays here. I hope I was able to give you a small insight into what this holiday is all about. Prior to working in the e-cig industry, I had only barely known of it’s existence, and certainly didn’t know it was a multi-day festival. So, if your favorite replacement coil or that Fuchai you had your eye on goes out of stock during this time, we do apologize, but just remember the importance of this festival to it’s people. Look back at some of these celebrations and you’ll realize (with some reluctance) that maybe your hardware can wait a few days.