9 things you must know about Start of Spring
Wearing fabric swallows
Wearing fabric swallows is a custom in some regions in Shaanxi. Every Start of Spring, people like to wear a swallow made of colorful silk on their chests. The custom originated during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The swallow is a harbinger of spring and a symbol of prosperity and happiness.
Biting the spring
In many parts of China, people observe the custom of "biting the spring" on the first day of Start of Spring. They eat spring pancakes, spring rolls, or a few mouthfuls of carrots.
Making a Spring Ox
This custom in Shaanxi is practiced right before the Start of Spring. The local government hires some skilled artisans and gathers them to build the frame of an ox out of bamboo strips and the legs with wood. Then they paste some paper and paint onto it—and, voila! The image of an ox is complete. It is said that if more red and yellow paper is used, then there will be a good harvest that year; if black paper is pasted, then the year will be poor. When the paper ox is ready, there is a ritual to paint the eyes. After that, people will set up an altar for it and worship it.
Posting spring calligraphy and paintings
The custom of posting calligraphy and paintings on one's door in the spring first appeared during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). People would do so to welcome spring and pray for good luck on the first day of Start of Spring.
Appreciating plum blossoms
Plums blossom from the 12th lunar month to the second month of the next year. The plum blossom, as it fights against the cold, is the most highly regarded. In China, the plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum are praised as the four gentlemen of Chinese flowers.
People in China began holding a special ceremony on the first day of Start of Spring about 3,000 years ago. They made sacrifices to Gou Mang, the god of Spring, who is in charge of agriculture. By the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), greeting spring had become an important folk activity. In Beijing, government officials welcomed spring in the wild field near Dongzhimen (the east gate of Beijing).