Why is the Chinese New Year so important?
Holidays and Regular Observances
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Chinese New Year festivities are associated, not surprisingly, with renewal and with powers that hold the promise of protection for the coming year. During these celebrations, religious Chinese add to their regular roster of symbolism extra images of important figures like the Eight Immortals and the deities of happiness, success and longevity. New Year is not a specifically Daoist observance, but rather a more generic occasion on which people are moved to intensify their awareness of essential values. Festivities begin about ten days before the actual day. It starts when families send Cao Jun, deity of the Stove, to give an account of the family’s deeds over the previous year to the Jade Emperor. On New Year’s Day, Cao Jun returns to his kitchen throne, where the family welcomes him with a fresh picture for the wall. Most families observe a series of private rituals, including elaborate meals and reverence to the ancestors. During the following two weeks or so, people pay homage to the god of wealth. Festivities end with the Lantern Festival at the New Year’s first full moon.