If you visit China during the Chinese New Year (Jan. 31 to Feb. 15, 2022), you will find that public places such as streets, parks, restaurants, and shopping malls are all decorated in the color red. If you have a chance to visit local families, you will find their houses have many decorations involved the color red. People even dress in red during the festival.
In Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes good fortune and joy. By keeping houses decorated in the color red and filled with auspicious decorations, people hope that the family living inside will be surrounded by good fortune and joy throughout the coming year. Here we've listed the top 8 popular decorations used to create festivity for the celebration.
1. Lanterns (灯笼 dēng lóng)
Made from bamboo strips and shaped like tomatoes, red lanterns are often used in Chinese traditional festivals such as the Spring Festival (including the Lantern Festival) and the Mid-Autumn Festival. In Chinese culture, red lanterns symbolize family reunions and good luck. It is said that the higher the lanterns are hung, the luckier the family will be.
Every year, lantern carnivals and exhibitions are held in parks and other public places, during which lanterns of various colors, patterns, and styles are on display. The entire area is decorated with beautiful lightings.
2. Spring Couplets (春联 chūn lián)
Hung on gateposts or door panels on the Chinese New Year eve, the spring couplet is a pair of lines of poetry that convey people's best wishes for the coming new year.
In ancient times, people used to write couplets by themselves. The traditional couplets are brush works of Chinese calligraphy, in black ink on red paper. Nowadays, people seldom write their own couplets as exquisite machine-made couplets can be easily found in supermarkets.
3. Window Paper-cuts (窗花 chuāng huā)
Paper-cut is a traditional folk craft that can be dated back to 2000 ago. Made from red paper, paper cuts are often pasted in windows. So it can be translated as "window flower."
The images of the Chinese New Year paper-cuts usually draw from legends, zodiac animals, auspicious fruits, and Chinese opera. It represents happiness and a good harvest.
4. Fu Character (福字 fú zì)
Similar to the Spring Couplets, fu character is a calligraphy work written on red paper with black ink. Interestingly, people usually pasted fu upside down on doors or windows.
"fu" (福 fú) means "good fortune", the word for "upside-down" (倒 dào) is a homophone of "arrive" (到dào) in Chinese. Pasting the fu upside down means the good fortune is coming.
5. Door Gods (门神 mén shén)
The pictures of door gods are traditional decorations pasted on the main door of a house. In ancient times, Chinese families used paired doors, so the door gods always appear in pairs. People believe door gods can protect against evil spirits and bless the family living inside.
There are many different types of legends about the door gods, so the images of door gods vary in different areas. The most popular pair is Guan Yu and Zhang Fei (from Romance of the Three Kingdoms
6. New Year Paintings (年画 nián huà)
New Year painting is a kind of colorful decoration used during the Chinese New Year. It usually draws with images expressing good wishes of healthy children and secular life. Printed with bright and warm colors, new year paintings always make people feel happy.
7. Kumquat Trees (金桔树 jīn jú shù)
Kumquat is called 金桔 (jīn jú) in Chinese. The word "金(jīn)" is a homophone of the word "gold" in Chinese, and the word "桔 (jú)" has similar punctuation to the word "吉 (jí)" which means good luck.
Having a kumquat tree at home during the Chinese New year expresses people's good wishes for wealth and good fortune
8. Flowers (花 huā)
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, usually falls at the beginning of spring when some flowers bloom. Apart from all the above traditional decorations, people also would like to put some fresh flowers at home. Symbolized as new life and vitality, plum blossoms are the popular choice.
Spend a New Year in China
Visiting China during the Chinese New Year period, you will see the streets filled with lanterns and Spring Festival rhymes and riddles, representing good luck, to show people's happiness. From jungle-covered mountains to modern metropolises to ancient cities, the New Year brings all of China together, seeing it for yourself is an unforgettable experience.