Updated: Jan 24
The origin of Chinese New Year traditions is closely associated with activities in worship in the ancient agricultural society. It has a history of more than 3800 years.
SHANG DYNASTY 1600 BC - 1046 BC
The concept of "年nián-year" emerged and people offered food, clothes and harvests to gods and ancestors by holding rituals seeking blessings and protection and to express their gratitude. The character "福fú-luck", displayed everywhere during CNY, is a combination of "衣yī-cloth", "口kǒu-mouth" and "田tián-land", showing people's dearest wishes during the ancient times.
ZHOU DYNASTY 1046 BC - 256 BC
People started to enshrine deities like “Kitchen God 灶神zào shén”, "Door God 门神mén shén" and "Fortune God 财神cái shén" to seek blessings.
HAN DYNASTY 206 BC - 220 AD & WEI-JIN DYNASTY 220-439AD
Emperor Wudi declared the 1st Day of the 1st Lunar month as the start of a New Year. New customs were introduced including "burning bamboo-爆竹bàozhú" to subdue evil spirits, hanging peach wood board and "staying up late into the wee hours-守岁shǒusuì".
TANG DYNASTY 618 - 907 AD
It was a period of flourishing economy. It not only preserved its traditions, it also focused much on social entertainment and activities, turning Chinese New Year into a major festive celebration.
SONG DYNASTY 960 - 1279 AD
With the invention of gun powder, setting off “fireworks-烟火yānhuǒ” became part of the tradition to herald in the New Year.
QING DYNASTY 1644 - 1911 AD
Visits by friends and relatives, exchanging of gifts, "lion and dragon dances-舞狮舞龙wǔshī wǔlóng" and stilt walkers were the highlights.
Chinese New Year is considered as the most important festival among the Chinese. Despite the long history, some early traditions still remain today.
The video here below is showing people in China celebrating the CNY just before Covid19.