As the most significant and oldest festival in China, Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is associated with many traditions and customs.

Some of these traditions are dying out, so people feel that the festival becomes less interesting and conventional. Well, let’s discover the ten vanishing traditions you may not know.

作为中国最重要和最古老的节日,中国农历新年(春节)与许多传统和习俗息息相关。其中一些传统正在消失,所以人们觉得节日变得不那么有趣和传统。那么,让我们来发现你可能不知道的十种消失的传统。

jizhaosheng

 1. Worshiping the Kitchen God 祭灶神

Legend has it that on December 23rd of lunar calendar, the Kitchen God will make a year-end report about each human’s good and evil deeds to the Jade Emperor of heaven.

相传在农历十二月二十三日,灶神将会向玉皇大帝汇报关于一年中每个人善恶表现。

Toward evening, each family is anxious about their evil deeds exposed to the emperor, so they burn incense, set off firecrackers, and worship the god with ‘bribery’ like cakes, nuts, and dried fruits. Therefore, the Kitchen God will only report their good side. In fact, the enshrining activity is mainly for a smooth, wealthy, and healthy expectation for the future life.

到了傍晚,每家每户因为灶神要上天向玉皇大帝禀报这家人的善恶而感到焦虑,所以他们烧香,放鞭炮,用蛋糕,坚果和干果等“贿赂”灶神。因此,灶神只会报告他们好的方面。实际上,祭拜活动主要是为了对未来生活的顺利,富裕和健康的期望。

Nowadays, most people use gas stove and electric cooker instead of the traditional fire stove, so the tradition also disappears. You may realise how dangerous it is to worship by a gas cooker with burning incense and firecrackers indoors.

如今,大多数人用燃气灶和电饭煲代替传统的火炉,所以传统也消失了。你可能会意识到,在室内燃烧香火和鞭炮祭拜神灵会有多危险。

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2. Kowtowing to Elders 拜长辈

Chinese New Year greeting etiquette is not like kissing, embrace, and handshaking in western countries. In the past, the first thing for a Chinese New Year visit started with kowtowing to the elders. No matter how old you are, if there is someone older than you, you need to kneel down to show respect and grateful feeling to the elders. It is really physically challenging work if you have a big family and you happen to be the youngest.

农历新年问候礼仪不像西方国家的亲吻,拥抱和握手。过去,中国农历新年的第一件事就是叩拜长辈。不管你多大年纪,如果有人比你年长,你需要双膝下跪来向长辈表示敬意和感恩。如果你有一个大家庭,并且你碰巧是最年轻的,那么这真的是一项艰巨的任务。

Nowadays, the young generation rejects such a way of greeting, so the etiquette is abandoned gradually in modern cities, while in some rural areas, the tradition is still kept.

如今,年轻一代拒绝这种问候方式,所以礼仪在现代城市中逐渐被废弃,而在一些农村地区,传统依然存在。

 

chuxi3. Staying Up on Chinese New Year’s Eve 守岁熬年

According to the legend story, the fierce monster Nian would come to harm people and live stock on the Eve, which would cause great damage to people’s a whole year efforts. To avoid its attack, people should shut doors and stay sober. When staying up all night, people will find something to kill the time, such as chatting, watching TV, playing cards or mahjong. It is really difficult to stay awake for a whole night, so Chinese people are beginning to abandon this tradition.

即为了一年来一次的年兽,每到除夕之夜,人们把“年”肆虐的这一夜,视做关口来熬,为消磨时光,一家人团聚交谈,有祈求平安度过这一夜的意思。时间长了后,除夕熬年守岁的习俗就形成了。当熬年时,人们会发现有些东西可以打发时间,比如聊天,看电视,玩扑克牌或麻将。但是要熬一整晚确实很难做到,所以中国人开始放弃这个传统。

4. No Sweeping and Dumping on the Lunar New Year’s Day 大年初一不清扫和不倾倒
In the olden days, it was considered improper to make sweep, or dump rubbish on the first day of the festival, for it foreboded that all the good luck and fortune would be driven far away. However, people nowadays are likely to keep the house clean and tidy, especially when they have guests. Therefore, the practice is becoming obscure.

过去,在节日的第一天进行清扫或倾倒垃圾被认为是不适当的,因为它预示着所有的好运和财富都会被驱赶到很远的地方。然而,现在的人们可能会保持房子干净整洁,特别是当他们有客人时。因此,这种做法变得模凌两可。

5. Opening-door Firecrackers 开门鞭炮
People will fall over each other to set off firecrackers in the early morning of Chinese New Year’s Day. Once they wake up, it is the first thing they do. People wish to welcome the good luck inside when they open their doors in the morning. Some companies will also set off opening-door firecrackers during the 6th to 8th of lunar January, when people return to work. The firecrackers lead to air pollution and also bring potential hazard, so now the tradition is more commonly seen in rural areas.

在农历新年那天清晨,人们会互相放鞭炮。这是过年一早醒来要做的第一件事。人们希望在早上开门迎接好运。一些公司在大年的初六,初八 重新开始工作时也会放开门鞭炮。鞭炮导致空气污染,也带来潜在危害,所以现在这种传统在农村地区更常见。

6. Offering Sacrifices to the God of Wealth 接财神
Folklore has it that the fifth day of the Spring Festival is the God of Wealth’s birthday. People want the god to bestow their houses with good luck, so they prepare a big dinner at home to celebrate the god’s birthday. The sacrifices ceremony, where the meal is offered to the God of Wealth, and left to go cold, so the god can take his fill, usually begins around midnight to 01:00 am on that day. During modern times, the custom has been gradually vanishing.

民俗界认为,春节的第五天是财神到来的日子。人们希望财神给全家带来好运,所以他们在家里准备一顿丰盛的晚饭来迎接财神的到来。祭奠仪式是为财神贡上丰富的食物,直到食物冷了,这样财神就可以吃饱,通常从午夜到凌晨01:00开始。在现代,这种习俗逐渐消失。

7. Staying Indoors on the Third Day of the New Year 大年初三忌拜年
The third day is called Chigou’s Day. Chigou, literally ‘red dog’, is the God of Rage, who is irritable. If people travel outside, they may have a squabble or quarrel with others. Now, Spring Festival is a good chance for separated friends and families to get together, so people do not care about the taboo at all.

大年初三又称“赤狗日”忌拜年,是一个不吉利的日子,赤狗是熛怒神,遇之则有凶事。所以人们一般在这天足不出户,留在家中,以免遇上凶煞,因此不宜外出也不宜拜年。现在,春节是和久别的朋友和家人团聚的好机会,所以人们根本不在乎禁忌。

songqiongyingfu

8. Sending the Poor Devil Away 送穷迎福
The sixth day of Chinese New Year is the time to send the Poor Devil away in folklore. The Poor Devil is said to be a short and thin man who likes dressing in rags, and eating rice-porridge. Even given new clothes, he would only wear them after tearing the clothes, or burning holes in them. After his death, people mark the sixth day as the day to dispel him. On this day, all the trash should be dumped, which symbolizes that all the poverty and hardship will be thrown away.

农历新年的第六天是送穷。可怜的穷鬼据说是一个矮瘦的男人,喜欢穿衣服和吃米粥。即使给了新衣服,他也只会在撕开衣服或在衣服上烧洞之后才穿上衣服。在他去世后,人们将第六天标记为驱散他的那一天。在这一天,所有的垃圾都应该被倾倒,这标志着所有的贫困和困苦都将被抛弃。

9. Going to the Butcher's on December 26th 请屠夫割年肉
December 26th of the lunar calendar used to be the day to go to the butcher’s for meat shopping. In the past, people could only enjoy the meat during festivals because of poverty. Some people raised livestock on their own, and they would ask a butcher to slaughter their pigs, oxen, or sheep. Nowadays, people seldom prepare the festival food on a fixed day, but buy meat as they wish.

农历十二月二十六日曾是屠宰猪肉的日子。过去人们因贫穷只能在节日期间享受肉食。有些人自己饲养牲畜,他们会要求屠夫宰杀他们的猪,牛或羊。如今,人们很少在固定的日子里准备节日食品,而是根据自己的意愿购买肉类。

10. Washing and Bathing on December 27th or 28th  农历27,28 沐浴更衣
Before Chinese New Year, people will wash all their dirty clothes, because they think all the filth will be washed away, and good luck is coming. Taking a bath on December 28th of the lunar calendar is also needed, as all sickness will be expelled outwards, and health will be sustained. Since every household now has a washing machine, and people get used to taking daily shower, so this custom has also faded away.

在农历新年之前,人们会把他们所有的脏衣服都洗掉,因为他们认为所有的污秽霉气都会被冲走,好运即将来临。农历十二月二十八日洗澡也是必要的,因为所有的疾病都会被驱逐,而留下健康。由于现在每个家庭都有洗衣机,而且人们习惯于每天洗澡,所以这种习俗也消失了。

中国年的一些传统习俗因时代的进步而逐步更新, 我们留下精华, 剔除糟粕, 使得中国年的传统文化红红火火,代代相传。

恭祝新年吉祥
万事如意
学业进步
心想事成

 


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