Ring in Chinese New Year 2014 in Shanghai
Come 2014, gallop your way to China for a unique year celebration. Join about 1.35 billion people as they celebrate the dawn of the Chinese New Year 2014 in Shanghai on 31st January 2014. Considered to be the grandest and the most important festival, Chinese New Year is what Christmas is to the western world. The festival begins on the first day of the first lunar month (usually in late January or early February) and ends on the 15th day of the first lunar month (Lantern Festival).
With 4000 years of history behind the Chinese Spring Festival, the festival also called Lunar New Year is a time for families to come together. Celebrations include annual reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year, lighting firecrackers, sending greetings to loved ones, ringing the bell, giving children li xi – lucky money, dragon dancing and performing northern China’s traditional dance – Niu Yangge.
Experience a new culture and join in the festivities as Chinese people celebrate the advent of spring. It is the best time of the year to take that long pending vacation to Shanghai and come back Zen like. Though the busiest travel time of the year, it is a unique experience to visit China at the peak of its festive season.
Chinese New Year
Known to have originated during the Shang Dynasty, somewhere around 17th century BC, the Chinese New Year custom started when people offered sacrifices to their ancestors in the last month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
According to legends, the origin of Chinese New Year started with a fight against a mythical beast called Nian. On the first day of New Year, Nian would come to eat crops, livestock and villagers. The villages would put food in front of their doors to protect themselves in the belief that Nian would eat the food and not attack the villages. One day they realized that Nian was scared of the color red since then the villagers would decorate their houses in red and hand red lanterns on their doors and windows. They also lit firecrackers to frighten the beast. This tradition stayed on and is continued till date. You will see on your visit that during Chinese New Year 2014 Shanghai is a riot of red color.
The festivities lasts a fortnight with some significant days of observance.
The first day is for welcoming deities of the heavens and earth, it is traditional practice to burn bamboo sticks, light firecrackers and to make as much noise as possible to chase off the evil spirits. A must see on the first day is the lion dance.
Third, Fifth, Eight and several days in between are also of significance with locals celebrating it with their friends and family. It’s back to business by the fourth day.
The fifteenth day of the New Year is celebrated as Yuanxiao Festival or the Lantern Festival. Candles are lit outside houses to guide wayward spirits home. In other countries such as Singapore and Malaysia it is also akin to Valentine’s Day with single men and women seeking a partner.
Year of the Horse
The Chinese zodiac is based on a 12 year cycle, with each year represented by an animal associated with five elemental signs. According to the Chinese zodiac, it is believed that there is a special relation between animals and people. Traced back to the Han Dynasty, this belief is based on the idea that one’s personality is affected by the animal their birth year is associated with.
CNY 2014 is the year of the horse. People born in the year of the horse are active and energetic with plenty of sex-appeal and a keen sense of dressing. They are extroverts and are mostly seen in social gatherings such as concerts, theaters, sporting occasions and parties.
Travel during Chinese New Year
During Chinese New Year 2014 Shanghai hosts various cultural events with strong local flavors throughout the city.
Shanghai is the biggest and most affluent city in China. A burgeoning international metropolis, the city plays a crucial role in China’s economy, industry, finance, culture, transport and trade.
Hanghai situated by the Yangtze River is a perfect amalgamation of the classic and contemporary. Tourists can experience a modern visit to places such as Xintiandi, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Bund and the World
Financial Center. On the other hand the city also takes one on an ancient journey through Jade Buddha Temple. Yuyuan Garden, Zhujiajiao Ancient Town, and nearby towns such as Jiangsu, Suzhou, Zhejiang and Hangzhou
Shanghai is one of the best places to shop for everything from well-known brands to local souvenirs. Popular shopping districts are Nanjing Road, Zhengda Square, Pudong, New Shanghai Shopping Center People’s Square, Zhongshan Park and Xujiahui
Given its cosmopolitan nature Shanghai offers enough local as well international options when it comes to food. Fresh water fish and shellfish are popular given the city’s geographical advantage. Some must try dishes include (Xiefen Shizitou)Crab Meat, Pork Meat balls. ( Da Zha Xie) Steamed Crab and (Sheng Jian Bao) Raw fried buns. Tourists can indulge in local delicacies in food streets’ that can be found close to the Yellow River Food Street, near the City God Temple and Zhapu Food Street among others.
· Once known as the Wall Street of Asia The Bund is China’s most famous waterfront is lined with 1930′s-era buildings
· Nanjing Road is an international shopping paradise; it is China’s “Fifth Avenue”
· Temple of the Jade Buddha houses two figurines of Lord Buddha carved from a single piece of white jade with one carved reclining position rarely found in any other temple
· Xin Tian Di comprises of Shikumen and modern architectural style and is known for modern cafes, bars and romantic restaurants
Other places of interest include Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Stadium, Grand View Garden, Shanghai Wildlife Zoo, Tianzifang, Zhujiajiao Ancient Town etc.
Travel Tips for Chinese New Year 2014 in Shanghai
· Best mode of transport during this season is a car/cab as trains will be crowded
· Draw up an itinerary and book your flight and stay well in advanced
· Collect information on Chinese New Year celebrations in the city beforehand. You don’t want to miss firework shows, fair and other activities by the locals
· It is advisable to carry warm clothes as the New Year falls on the coldest days of the year in China
· The food eaten during festivities is rich and high in calories. Ensure you carry you basic medicine kit and eat judiciously to avoid an upset tummy during your Chinese New year 2014 in Shanghai stay!