Mon, January 26, 2009
China > Mainland > 2009 Spring Festival

Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year

2009-01-25 16:03:07 GMT2009-01-26 00:03:07 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Four girls rehearse for a show celebrating the Spring Festival in Pengzhou, a quake-hit city of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Jan. 25, 2009. Quake zone residents in west China had made their own ways to welcome the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year. (Xinhua/Wang Jianhua)

Locals select Spring Festival couplets at Kangxian County in Longnan, a quake-hit city of northwest China's Gansu Province, Jan. 25, 2009. Quake zone residents in west China had made their own ways to welcome the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year. (Xinhua/Ma Ning)

Locals perform folk dances celebrating the Spring Festival in Pengzhou, a quake-hit city of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Jan. 25, 2009. Quake zone residents in west China had made their own ways to welcome the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year. (Xinhua/Wang Jianhua)

A man sticks a paper-cut of Chinese character of "Fu", meaning "good fortune", onto the window at a cafe to celebrate the Spring Festival in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Jan. 25, 2009. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)

CHENGDU, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- With red lanterns hanging from the eaves, the bangs of firecrackers outside, and tables of delicious food, Chinese people, including millions of quake survivors, observed the Lunar New Year eve in the traditional way.

In the prefab of quake survivor Hu Suqiong, a dozen family members gathered at the table on which were traditional local foods such as preserved ham and sausage.

"I really had not expected that I could celebrate the Spring Festival with everyone in such a good prefab room," Hu's husband Chen Ziyi toasted Sunday noon's "reunion" (tuanyuan in Chinese) meal", which take place among Chinese families on the Lunar New Year's Eve.

The "Qinjian Family" prefab housing area where Hu Suqiong lives near the downtown of Dujiangyan City has 120,000 people. Dujiangyang was a worst-hit area in Sichuan Province in last May's devastating earthquake which left more than 80,000 people dead or missing.

"I feel rather satisfied and thank all those who have helped me," Chen said.

Spring Festival, which falls on Monday, is the most important holiday for Chinese. People meet relatives and eat dumplings and various delicious food. They set off firecrackers to scare off evil spirits.

For Chinese, the year 2008 was both a painful year and a proud year in which the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 in Sichuan caused huge casualties and damage, and the successful Olympic Games in August made China a focus in the world.

In Longxi Village, Wenchuan County in Sichuan, the quake epicenter, 37-year-old Chen Shixue kept his simple temporary housewarm with an electric heater.

Chen said the government offered construction materials and each family 2,000 yuan to help build the wind and rain-proof houses made of plastic cloth, straw beddings and wood boards.

Some 90 out of 96 families in the village lost their homes in the quake. They built the temporary houses to live through the winter as their new permanent housing has not yet been completed.

Before the winter came, the government also gave his family seven quilts and an electric carpet to keep warm in the winter, according to Chen.

Up until now, 560,000 rural households in Sichuan have completed the construction of their new permanent housing, accounting for 44 percent of the total number. Another half a million rural families have yet to complete their new housing, according to the Sichuan government.

The Sichuan provincial government has said it will try to ensure all quake-affected residents move to new permanent houses in the new year.

"Grandma, please bless our whole family with a safe new year," another villager Chen Zhihua said before the tomb of her grandma as she mourned her on Sunday.

The 32-year-old woman, an ethnic Qiang, said none of her relatives died in the quake but she lost her house. "We had had too much fear with the tremors last year; to pray the safety of our whole family is the best wish for the new year."

In Lueyang County, Shaanxi Province, about 200,000 residents were affected by the Sichuan quake.

Zhang Yueyin, in Guozhenjie Village, Lueyang, moved to her new house and replaced an old black and white TV with a color one.

"With a government subsidy of 30,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan of bank loan, I built the new house," said Zhang. The villager said her husband would go to find work in cities shortly after the Spring Festival so as to return the loans as early as possible.

On Sunday, more than ten Tibetan residents in traditional costume in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, came to Yi Qibing's barber shop to express New Year greetings.

Yi's shop was looted in last March riots in Lhasa. He rebuilt it under the help and support from government and ethnic Tibetan residents.

"It is the Tibetan residents who helped me when my shop was in difficulties," said Yi, an ethnic Han.

The Tibetans and Yi's family and shop staff held a dinner together to celebrate the Lunar New Year's eve.

Spring Festival celebrations take various forms in different places. In the capital Beijing, dozens of temple fairs featuring cultural activities and folk customs shows began on Sunday.

Ahead of the Lunar New Year, President Hu Jintao visited the eastern province of Jiangxi on Saturday and Sunday, calling on revolutionary veterans, model workers and farmers.

Hu said currently the Party and all ethnic groups in China were striving to maintain a steady and relatively fast economic development and build a well-off society.

The country should learn from the people in Jinggangshan, a revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China, in dealing with the difficult situation, and turn the current challenges into opportunities for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Hu said when visiting Jinggangshan, a famous revolutionary base where Mao Zedong led the Red Army to fight against his enemies during wartime.

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