Written by Dakota Wang
My name is Dakota Wang and I was born and raised in China. I witnessed the changes of the times from 1998 to 2021. When I was still a child, we didn’t have a mobile and a computer, but we truly enjoyed our spring festival. We lighted the fireworks together, we sat together and enjoyed TV on the eve of the New Years. We would cook what we didn’t cook generally at that time.
However, currently many people complain that we can’t feel the spring festival atmosphere anymore since all of us are very busy. We are busy playing our mobile phones, we are busy going back to work and we are busy making money. Here, the only way we can feel the atmosphere is the loudness of fireworks.
At 00 am on the first day of January, we will light the fireworks to welcome the New Year’s. When we woke up, we would receive lucky money from the older after New Year’s greetings. I am sad that we are losing the atmosphere of spring festival. Therefore, I want to record some traditions when I still recall them.
Snatch the first bucket of water
When it is 12am on the first day of Chinese New Year (lunar calendar), we will rush to the well to snatch the first bucket of water. We have to rush to the well before the middle of night. Every family will ask one person to get that water. Since according to Five Elements (a systematic view of ancient Chinese philosophy, widely applied to Chinese medicine, divination, physiognomy and numerology), gold produce water because golden miner is always near water. Therefore, people want to get the first bucket of water which means earning the first pot of gold in business. In Dali (a place in Yunnan province), snatching the first bucket of water means gaining the initiative and winning the first prize. On New Year’s Eve, Bai minorities wear bright and ethic clothes while holding a string of firecracker and carry a bucket, happily rushing to the well. When it is 12 am, they light the fireworks together, then to snatch that water. Every family will use the first bucket of water to cook noodles or meat balls to give out the older, giving the best wishes to them. After the older receive gifts, they will give lucky money in that bowl for wishing healthy growing, good happiness.
Cooking glutinous rice cake
On 20th, February, people in Xiangxi will cook glutinous rice cake (new year cake made of sticky rice) to stick birds’ mouth. Since in the past, many farmers made a living by farming. However, the yield was not high at that time while there were too many birds which always ate their rice so that they held this tradition to protect their foodstuff. Besides, we can’t pour water this day as well because it is said that once you pour water, your house will have leaks.
How to make glutinous rice cake?
Firstly, we will steam the sticky rice.
Secondly, we will put the steamed sticky rice into a groove like in the pictures.
Thirdly, we will hammer it hundreds of times until all rice can stick together.
Lastly, we will fashion it into a round shape.
Do not empty the garbage
Taking out the garbage is prohibited from 1 to 5 January (lunar calendar). Since it is said that dumping garbage will accidentally spill on the gods, and if gods are angry, they will bring bad luck to people. In general, we empty the garbage on the fifth day of the first month (lunar calendar). After lighting the fireworks in the morning, we can take out the garbage.