China gears up to welcome ‘Year of the Rooster’
Beijing, Jan 27 (IANS) As China gets ready to bid farewell to the Year of the Monkey and usher in the Year of the Rooster, it’s time for family reunions, fireworks and feasts, a media report said on Friday.
During this period, millions return to their hometowns to ring in in the New Year with their families, and this year the authorities expect up to three billion trips to take place during the famous 40-day-long Spring Festival, between January 13 and February 21, Efe news reported.
However, not everyone can spend the holiday with their families.
“My mother and I have to stay in Beijing this year,” Lei Yueying, 22, who could not go to her grandparents’ house in Hubei to meet her family, told Efe news.
Lei added they have put up pictures of a fire rooster (depicting the New Year that begins on Saturday) on their windows and a sticker in Chinese reading “fu”, or the character of fortune, on the door of their Beijing home.
Back in their hometown, during this period, Lei’s grandparents prepare little rice cakes called “nian gao”, meaning “each year more prosperous” in Chinese.
For those who could not go to their hometowns, and especially those who live in Beijing, celebrations would include attending fairs and parades, especially the one at the Temple of the Earth.
The temple, also known as the Ditan Park, will come alive with numerous red-coloured lamps and images of roosters, and will hold a traditional ceremony that attracts huge crowds of people from different parts of the city.
Besides temples, there are other places that will record a large footfall, including Daoxiaocun, a traditional confectionery that offers time-tested delicacies such as “babaofan”, a popular sweet pudding associated with good health.
Cleaning the house is one among the many popular and symbolic traditions associated with the Chinese New Year as the Chinese believe it drives out bad experiences of the past and symbolises bidding farewell to the old year and welcoming the new.
However, New Year family reunions can often be stressful for many, including family pressure on youngsters to look for a partner and which has in recent years given rise to portals offering “girlfriends for hire”.
To avoid questions on their romantic lives, young men can hire “girlfriends” to take home, for prices ranging from 500 to 2,000 yuan ($72-$290) per night, according to the daily South China Morning Post.
Either way, practically all of China looks forward to these holidays for its warm family gatherings, fireworks, and the traditional gala of the Chinese central television.