To celebrate the Chinese New Year in Hainan

To celebrate the Chinese New Year in Hainan

Dates: 2019        Location: Hainan

Hainan is situated at the southernmost tip of China.

Surrounded by the sea, it boasts of a warm climate and pleasant scenery.

Here, a long history of humanity and splendid multi-ethnic culture join and flourish.

How wonderful is Hainan’s Spring Festival? Let’s find out together.


1. It has been silently busy before the Spring Festival

a. Send “Kitchen God” off on December 24 of the lunar year


In most parts of Hainan, the "Kitchen God Worshipping Festival" on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month is an important folk festival. On this day, the Hainan people would carefully invite down the “Kitchen God” and then send him off (to be burned) after preparing wine and fruit for sacrifice, so that the “Kitchen God” sent by the Jade Emperor for supervision can tell good deeds in the heaven and protect peace on the earth.


b. Cleaning house, sweeping dust and sending off poverty


After seeing off the “Kitchen God”, every family will carry the new broom bundled with the green bamboo branches and leaves to “clean the house” or “sweep dust,” namely spring cleaning. In addition to cleaning the house back and front, people in some areas have to clean the daily furniture including the mosquito net and bedding and burn up worn-out clothes to “send off poverty.” The spring cleaning means to sweep away all “poor luck” and “bad luck” out of the door, full of the local people's good wishes to ring out the Old Year and ring in the New Year.  


c. Prepare Chinese New Year products in the festival fair


Before Chinese New Year’s Eve, the Hainan people will come to the streets full of the jubilant New Year atmosphere to buy Chinese New Year products together with family members. From the gold and silver joss sticks and candles for worshipping to candies and cakes arranged on the table during Spring Festival, various bowls, chopsticks, pots, sacrificial offering should be well prepared, to prepare sufficient festive products to celebrate the New Year. Of course, in the heart of the Hainan people, the sacrificial oranges that forebode “good luck in the coming year” are indispensable traditional Spring Festival products.


2. Worship ancestors, stay up late on New Year’s Eve and greet the New Year’s Eve

a. Worship ancestors  


    Worshipping ancestors is the top priority on New Year's Eve in Hainan. At the fixed auspicious time on every New Year's Eve, every family will place the steamed sponge cake, boiled chicken, sweet potato wine or rice wine in front of the memorial tablet of ancestors, the elders lead children and grandchildren to worship the ancestors. They first burn paper money, present candles and sacrificial offerings and then salute the ancestors. After the completion of the ancestor worship ceremony, they have to set off firecrackers, and the whole family begin to eat the New Year's Eve dinner around the table until the foods turn cold and are removed.


    b. Family reunion dinner


    There’s an allegorical saying in Hainan – Knives and anvils cannot stay idle on New Year’s Eve. On the New Year’s Eve every year, the Hainan people prepare a very rich New Year’s Eve dinner. In Haikou, the local people call the New Year’s Eve dinner as the “stove dinner.”. All family members sit around the stove with the pot set on, boil the chicken and mutton in the pot, and taste the meat and vegetables in the soup, very delicious in taste. For many Hainan people, the fish that symbolizes a rich and surplus year after year, celery that means hard work and bean vermicelli that stands for longevity are indispensable to the “Hainan Spring Festival flavor” on the table of New Year’s Eve dinner.


c. Light kerosene lamps and set off firecrackers to celebrate the New Year


In order to catch the good meaning of "getting rich by bearing children," every family in Hainan will light kerosene lamps on New Year's Eve and they can turn off the lights until the fifth day of the lunar New Year. In addition, there is a custom of “staying up late on New Year’s Eve,” children set off fireworks and watch the Spring Festival gala and adults play mahjong and chitchat until the New Year's bell rings. At this moment, every family will vie setting off firecrackers to greet the wonderful New Year by the boisterous celebratory way.


3. The happiest time in a year

a. Haikou – Eat a vegetarian dish on the first day of the lunar year


On the morning that means the beginning of a new year, people living in Haikou have to eat the “vegetarian meal” after getting up (with the meaning of peace and cleanliness in body and missing the ancestors). Eating different vegetables also stands for different New Year wishes. If the family cooks the plain-frying eggplant, it is hoped to be “better and better year after year” (Hainan dialect); if the plain-frying celery is cooked, this is to wish the whole family could work hard and make a fortune in the new year. Various vegetarian dishes with various good meanings are also favored by the people as festival customs.


b. Wenchang – guests have to bring firecrackers when paying a New Year call


Guests have to bring firecrackers to set off when paying a New Year’s call? The interesting custom is mainly prevalent in Wenchang City, Hainan. The local people think that if guests all go paying New Year calls with firecrackers, the family with the most firecrackers will get greater popularity, with the auspicious meaning. Of course, many people have no longer been caring about these details, and as long as there are guests to visit, they will be warmly welcomed by the host family.


c. Li nationality – hunting during the spring festival


On the first and second days of the New Year, the "Li nationality," an ethnic minority living on Hainan Island, gathers the young and middle-aged men of the whole village and holds a "Spring Festival hunt" to share the prey. The hunters participating in the activity carry their guns, bows, and hunting knives early in the morning, gather together at the set place with their hounds and start a day of hunting led by the group leader. Interestingly, if you happen to pass by while hunters are dividing up their prey, you can also get a part as a "New Year's gift,"


4. Notes

a. Not allowed to sweep the floor on the first day of the lunar year


In Hainan, there are many taboos on the first day of the lunar year, of which, one of the most important is not to sweep the floor. Particularly in the Qiongbei area of Hainan, people think sweeping the floor on the first day of the lunar year will sweep away the family wealth at home, without fortune to make in a whole year. Even if the floor is full of red firecracker paper, it cannot be swept.


b. Customs differ greatly in various places


 Starting from the third day of the lunar year, there will be many differences in the customs of various places in Hainan. The elders in the north and east of Hainan call the third day of the lunar year as the “Ominous Day,” because they think it is easy to be inauspicious to go out on this day. The local people in Dongfang and Ledong think the fourth day of the lunar year is a good day to greet the gods. In Qionghai, many people take the eighth day of the lunar year as the birthday of the Hainan local guardian god. In order not to annoy the local guardian god, it is not allowed to sweep and contaminate the floor. As for the special customs of other places in Hainan, they are waiting for you to discover them slowly.


c. Danzhou - Not going out on the first day of the lunar year


 On the first day of the New Year, many places in Danzhou keep the traditional custom of not going out and people can go out only on the second day of the lunar year. Even though most families have been not avoiding the taboo of going out on the first day of the lunar year, they cannot go pay a New Year’s call on other people’s home, which has been retained.


4. These taboos should also be noted


 In addition to these taboos ahead, there are many matters that should be noted during the Spring Festival in Hainan, such as not carrying water (the water vat must be filled on New Year’s Eve), not taking medicine, not opening the back door, not moving firewood, no rude remarks, no brashness and force, and no washing clothes. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Remember to note the different customs in different places when celebrating the Spring Festival in Hainan.


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