The Chinese New Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known as "new-year visits" ( 拜年; bainian). New clothings are usually worn to signify a new year. The colour red is liberally used in all decorations. Red packets are given to juniors and children by the married and elders. All these festivities may vary from region to region and from family to family.
Days before the new year
On the days before the New Year celebration Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. There is a Cantonese saying "Wash away the dirts on ninyabaat" (年廿八，洗邋遢), but the practice is not usually restricted on nin'ya'baat(年廿八, the 28th day of month 12). It is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-panes a new coat of red paint. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. Purchasing new clothing, shoes and receiving a hair-cut also symbolize a fresh start .
The biggest event of any Chinese New Year's Eve is the dinner every family will have. A dish consisting of fish will appear on the tables of Chinese families. It is for display for the New Year's Eve dinner. This meal is comparable to Christmas dinner in the West. In northern China, it is customary to make dumplings (jiaozi 餃子) after dinner and have it around midnight. Dumplings symbolize wealth because their shape is like a Chinese tael. By contrast, in the South, it is customary to make a new year cake (Niangao, 年糕) after dinner and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends in the coming days of the new year. Niangao literally means increasingly prosperous year in year out. After the dinner, some families go to local temples, hours before the new year begins to pray for a prosperous new year. Usually, at the new year's eve, people have to stay awake through out the night, which is Shou Sui. In modern practice, many households hold parties and even hold a countdown to the new lunar year.
First day of the new year
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.Some families may invite a lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Lunar New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers.
Second day of the new year
The second day of the Chinese New Year is for married daughters to visit their birth parents. Traditionally, daughters who have been married may not have the opportunity to visit their birth families frequently.On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs.Business people of the Cantonese dialect group will hold a 'Hoi Nin' prayer to start their business on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year.The prayer is done to pray that they will be blessed with good luck and prosperity in their business for the year.
Fifth day of the new year
The fifth day is an important day during Chinese New Year. It is said that the spring isn't really come before this day, and this day is also called as breaking the fifth "Po Wu" (破五). In northern China, people eat Jiaozi (traditional Chinese: 餃子) (dumplings) on the morning of the fifth day. This is also the birthday of the Chinese god of wealth. In Taiwan, businesses traditionally re-open on this day, accompanied by firecrackers.
Ninth day of the new year
The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven (天公) in the Taoist Pantheon. The ninth day is traditionally the birthday of the Jade Emperor.This day is especially important to Hokkiens and Teochews (Min Nan speakers). Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven. Offerings will include sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that had protected the Hokkiens from certain extermination generations ago. Tea is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honored person.
Fifteenth day of the new year
The fifteenth day is the most important day after the first day. Actually, it is an another festival to end the Chinese New Year peroid, known as Lantern Festival, also called "Yuanxiao jie" (元宵節). In the night, people walk on the street carrying lighted lanterns. Rice dumplings "Tangyuan 湯圓", a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is served for this day.