Welcome to 2013 Snake Spring Festival for Hunan tour

Welcome to 2013, The year for the snake

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional festival and a public holiday in China. The Chinese New Year 2013 starts in February 9 (Chinese New Year' Eve). It is the year of snake. The festival falls on the first day of the first Chinese month (usually in late January and early February), and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day.

The festival is celebrated grandly and extensively across the country. Various cultural activities such as lighting fireworks, dragon dancing, lion dancing and other traditional performances, are arranged in parks and streets in cities and towns. Every family thoroughly cleans the house, sweeps the floors and washes daily things. House cleaning is believed to drive away ill-fortune and bring good luck in the coming year. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper-cuts and couplets.

New Year Paintings - During the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), it is traditional to decorate the homes with new year paintings. The most popular paintings are Door Gods pasted on the front doors to keep ghosts and monsters away. Spring Couplets - Spring couplets are traditionally written with black ink on red paper. They are hung in storefronts in the month before the New Year’s Day, and often stay up for two months. They express best wishes and fortune for the coming year. There is a great variety in the writing of these poetic couplets to fit the situation. A store would generally use couplets hat make references to their line of trade. Couplets that say "Happy New Year" and " Continuing Advancement in Education" are apprpriate for a school.

2013,the Year of the Snake

Dates: February 9 (Chinese New Year's Eve) to February 24 (Lantern Festival)

This light-hearted lens is devoted to the snake, (the sixth sign in the Chinese zodiac).

In Chinese astrology, the snake is associated with beauty and wisdom. The snakes may appear to be slow-moving, slithery, serene creatures, but they are known to embody esoteric knowledge and spiritual discovery which is why they are sacred to many ancient cultures around the globe.

In Western culture, the snake is often seen as an evil force, capable of seducing homo sapiens into compromising situations.

Whether these cold-blooded creatures of planet Earth are as sacred as revered by mystics and deep thinkers, or as mortal enemies synonymous with the devil or Satan himself, perhaps only time will tell.

We leave you to be the judge of what role serpents play in your life -- especially in "2013 The Year of the Water Snake" -- which begins on February 10, 2013!

Traditional Food for Spring Festival

There are many foods in Chinese culture associated with the Chinese New Year. Although preferences vary from region to region, some examples include the following:

New Year Rice Cake(粘糕 nián gāo)

The Chinese character 粘, meaning "sticky", is identical in sound to 年, meaning "year", and the word 糕, meaning "cake" is identical in sound to 高, meaning "high". As such, eating niangao is a symbol of raising oneself higher in each coming year (年年高升 niánnián gāoshēng). Chinese families who practice Chinese traditional religion also offer niangao to the kitchen god, Zao Jun. It is believed that all the household gods go off to heaven to report on a family during the new year. Serving niangao to the kitchen god is believed to help him provide a sweet report on the family because he will be satisfied and not inclined to deliver criticism — or that his lips are so sticky from the cakes that he is unable to make too much of a report.

Prosperity Cake(发糕fā gāo)

Fagao Literally translated as "Prosperity Cake". It is made with wheat flour, water, sugar and leavened with either yeast or baking powder. Fagao batter is steamed until it rises and splits open at the top. The pronunciation of "fa" indicates either "to raise/generate" or "be prosperous", hence its well intending secondary meaning.

Dumpling(饺子jiǎo zi)

Dumplings, are small or large mounds of dough that are usually dropped into a liquid mixture (such as soup or stew) and cooked until done, some are stuffed with meat and/or vegetables.

Mandarin oranges(金桔jīn jú )

Mandarin oranges (a symbol of wealth and good fortune). The Cantonese word for these oranges is a homonym for gold.

Whole steamed fish (整鱼zhěng yú)

Whole steamed fish (a symbol of long life and good fortune). This can be seen in wall decorations of fish themes. The word 鱼 (yú), meaning "fish", shares the same pronunciation with the word 余, meaning "surplus" (e.g. having money left over from covering expenses). The common greeting for the new year "niannian you yu" can mean to enjoy a surplus, i.e. financial security, year after year.

Snake People’s Personality

The Year of Snake:

People born in the year of the snake may become philosophers, theologians, politicians, or cunning financiers. The snake is the most enigmatic of the twelve zodiac animals.

Such persons are elegant, and enjoy reading, listening to great music, tasting delicious food, and going to theatres. They are fascinated with all beautiful things in life. Many of the most beautiful ladies and the men with strongest personalities were born in the year of the snake. Therefore, you should have good luck if you were born in that year.

A person born in the year of the snake usually acts according to his own judgment, and doesn't follow the views of others. He may be a religious believer or a pleasure-seeker. In either case, he would rather believe in his own conjectures than accept the advice of others, and he is generally right.

They are not annoyed by lack of money, and are usually lucky enough to own everything they need. If such a person is short of money, he can change the situation quickly. However, he shouldn't gamble, for he may lose everything he has. If he sustains great losses, he will soon come to realize his error and recover from it so that he is not hurt again. Generally, he will be cautious and alert when doing business.

These persons are over suspicious, which is their nature. They hide their suspicions, acting as if nothing is on their minds. They are also generous with money. However, such a person may be famous for heartlessness. To realize an important goal, they may act to eradicate anyone who gets in their way, without any feeling of shame.

Some people born in the year of the snake may speak in a leisurely or listless way, but this does not mean that they are slow in thinking and action. They like to think deeply, plan carefully, and make a systematic and appropriate exposition of their views. They usually speak with great care.

A person born in the year of the snake often shows a strong desire for control when associating with others, and can be strict with them. To a certain extent, he will not trust his friends. He will never forgive anyone who breaks a promise. He easily becomes excessively nervous when he is frightened or feels doubtful about something.

When such a person is irritated, he will cherish a bitter hatred. However, he will act with hostility in a secret way. He shows his resentment with ice-cold hostility instead of bitter words. Some of the people born in the year of the snake may strike their enemies a deadly blow.

A woman born in the year of the snake will be quiet, serene, and have an outstanding appearance. When you look at her carefully, however, you may find that she is not perfectly beautiful. If you look at her facial features separately, you may see that her nose can be too big, or her eyes too close. But she will be quite charming if you look at her in her entirety. She acts confidently and calmly. She often strolls sluggishly, which impresses people, when in fact, she is always busy thinking.

Such a woman likes to follow the fashion and be properly dressed. She loves treasures and jewelry. If she has enough money, she will buy the best and real diamonds, pearls, and other jewelry. You would best not give her gold-plated jewelry or replicas, for she may not accept your gift because it seems to be fake.

She is also strict in choosing friends. If she herself does not have power and money, which she advocates, she will often marry a rich and powerful man. As long as her husband has potential, she will try her best to help him to succeed. She acts as a perfect hostess when showing her husband how to make use of every opportunity in his life. With such guidance, support and devotion, the husband will have no choice but to try his best to climb the social ladder.

People born in the year of the snake usually have a sense of humor. In desperate situations, they can enliven the atmosphere with jokes. They talk cheerfully and humorously even under great pressure. However, there are some exceptions. Some of these people are icy, some often ridicule others, and some are even grim.

Now you can see that it is not easy to deal with a person born in the year of the snake, especially when he thinks one way and behaves in another. There always lies an alert heart behind his serene appearance. He has a strong will, and will try his best to hold fast to his position. He is so cunning that when you think you may have seized him, he has already slipped away.

Chinese people believe that people born in the spring or autumn of the year of the snake are the most formidable, while those born in winter are quiet and obedient, for a snake hibernates during winter. Those born in nice weather are happier than those born in terrible weather, and they feel content more easily.

A person born in the year of the snake is a passionate lover, who always makes eyes at persons of the opposite sex. You will make a mistake if you think that such a person is always in love, for they are sensitive toward and yearn for everything, and so their eyes shine with the enthusiasm of first love when they make a good deal.

People born in the year of the snake, especially those who like to be in the limelight and struggle for fame and gain, often lead turbulent lives that are full of passion, forcing them to rack their brains.

As the core force in disturbance and difficult situations, a "snake" will face danger fearlessly, and deal with unforeseen disasters. He has a strong sense of responsibility and clear goals. He may become most powerful if he combines his lofty ideals with inborn advantages.

Source: The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora Lau Published by arrow Books Limited

Six important days in spring festival

Preliminary Eve

Every 23rd or 24th day of the 12th lunar month is called Preliminary Eve, or xiaonian. It's the start of the whole Spring Festival Celebration. On this day people offer sacrifices to the kitchen God, however, these days, most families make delicious food for their family members.

On this day, pictures of the Kitchen God are burned as a symbol of his departure, and usually some paper money is also burned as his traveling expense. Many people will hang the kitchen God's picture above the stove, wishing he will watch over and protect the whole family.

The New Year's Eve - Reunion Dinner

A reunion dinner is held on New Year's Eve where members of the family, near and far, get together for the celebration. The New Year's Eve dinner is considerably large and traditionally includes chicken. Fish is included, but not eaten up completely (and the remaining stored overnight), as the Chinese phrase "nian nian you yu", or "every year there is fish/leftover", is a homophone for phrases which could mean "be blessed every year" or "have profit every year", since "yu" has the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for "profit".

The New Year's Eve celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors.

First Day of the New Year

New Year's day is also celebrated within the family. Usually family members gather on the morning of New Year's Day. It is at this gathering that red packets are given to unmarried members of the family. The age of the recipient is not material to receiving the packets. Married couples usually give out two red packets on the first new year after being married. This is because the wife presents one and the husband presents one. In subsequent years they may give one as a couple.

Red packets traditionally consisted of amounts in multiples. Amounts like $2 (two piece of $1), or $20 were acceptable. Similarly "multiples" such as $1.10 and $2.20 were also acceptable. However, this is not strictly adhered to. The gift was originally a token amount but these days it is not uncommon to receive large sums in affluent families. In some families this tradition has evolved into the practice of substituting money-like instruments (stocks, bonds, unit trust) in place of large sums of cash.

Red packets are also given to unmarried visitors but the sums are often smaller than the packets given to family members or close friends.

Second Day of the New Year

The second day of the new year is usually for visiting the family of the wife if a couple is married. A large feast is also typically held on the second day of the new year.

15th Day of the New Year - Lantern Festival

The New Year celebrations ended on the 15th of the First Moon with the Lantern Festival. On the evening of that day, people carried lanterns into the streets to take part in a great parade. Young men would highlight the parade with a dragon dance. The dragon was made of bamboo, silk, and paper, and might stretch for more than hundred feet in length. The bobbing and weaving of the dragon was an impressive sight, and formed a fitting end to the New Year festival.

The 10th Day Before the New Year Day – Day of Sweeping the Grounds

Preparations for the Chinese New Year in old China started well in advance of the New Year's Day. The 20th of the Twelfth Moon was set aside for the annual housecleaning, or the "sweeping of the grounds". Every corner of the house must be swept and cleaned in preparation for the new year. In ancient times Spring Couplets, written in black ink on large vertical scrolls of red paper, were put on the walls or on the sides of the gate-ways. These couplets, short poems written in Classical Chinese, were expressions of good wishes for the family in the coming year. In addition, symbolic flowers and fruits were used to decorate the house, and colorful new year pictures (NIAN HUA) were placed on the walls (for more descriptions of the symbolism of the flowers and fruits.

Source:Hunan Officical Website