Chinese New Years is the biggest and most important holiday of the year. In some ways it is much the same as ours. This is the time to get together with family and bring in the New Year. It lasts 15 days but of course some only get a few days off, and there are all kinds of celebrations going on for the two weeks. It is still called the Spring Festival on the mainland. The end of the month is called the "Bitter Moon" because it is the coldest part of the year in Hong Kong. It is a very busy time of year as family members clean house, (to get rid of the bad spirits from last year) get haircuts, buy new clothes and cook, all of which are prohibited during the holiday. Debts and feuds are settled, and employees get a one-month New Year's bonus. There is a legend that at one time there was a beast who came to eat the villagers and they were told that red and noise would scare him away so that is why red and fire crackers are so important in their culture. It's also a time to go to the temples to pray and light incense and remember your ancestors. At the small temples that are all around l've noticed there are more people visiting than before.
You see a lot of decorations like this. They are firecrackers with all sorts of symbols on them and they come in small sizes like this one to huge ones. On New Years Eve families get together for a feast, wear new clothes (not black and white, but something with red) and stay up all night visiting and playing games. Some of the foods that are important are fish, dumplings, spring rolls and Nian Gao, which sounds like getting higher year by year, which means they will prosper. There is a lot of punning with the words for food. The sounds of the words can mean two things, like chicken (gai) can also mean luck, so you would want to eat that for luck. In the morning the children will receive presents and the red packets with money in them. I love the bright red color everything is.