Chinese New Year - Spring Festival
Chun Jie / CHUN gee-EH
Spring Festival in China celebrates the beginning of the lunar calendar or new year. The festivities take place in January or February for fifteen days from the evening preceding the first day of the year through the concluding Lantern Festival. Fireworks and anything red are used to ward off the mythological monster, Nian, who is afraid of loud sounds and reddish color. The celebration is a time to honor ancestors and gather for feasting. It is, also, a traditional time to clean homes, seeping away bad luck, and to give money in red paper envelopes, called hongbao, for good health and happiness. Processionals and parades fill the streets with giant dragons.
Diwali - The Festival of Lights
A 4-5 day celebration, held during October to November by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, during which clay lamps, diyas, are lit to signify the victory of good over evil. Diwali marks the beginning of the New Year and is the biggest and brightest festival, celebrated with feasts, family, friends and fireworks. The emphasis on light represents both the peace of inner light and the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness. Homes are decorated, legends are spoken, and prayers are shared. The traditional five days of Diwali include Dhanteras (Day of Fortune), Naraka Chaturdasi (Day of Knowledge), Diwali (Day of Light), Annakut (New Year), and Bhai Dui (Day of Love Between Siblings).