• People celebrate the Lunar New Year with a dragon dance in Nantong, Jiangsu Province.

People celebrate the Lunar New Year with a dragon dance in Nantong, Jiangsu Province. (Photo : Getty Images)

Spring Festival, or the Chinese New Year, is the most important, highly anticipated festival in China as well as neighboring countries.

People travel long distances to return to their hometowns to attend family reunions and visit relatives and friends. So schools in China get a month off, and universities even more just to give people enough time to be with their families.

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Other than family reunions, what makes Spring Festival so special that it attracts even foreigners around the world?

Here are five things to love about Spring Festival:

1) Animal toys. There are people who love collecting items. Since Chinese zodiac assigns one of 12 animals, either real or mythological, to each year, this is the best time for it. People buy assigned animal toy for the year. So this year, people probably bought some rooster toys.

2) Food. Some of the traditional foods eaten during the festival are dumplings, which symbolize the luck that is wrapped inside, and pudding, which symbolizes a more prosperous year. Other Chinese New Year foods include spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes, and sweet rice balls. People also buy candies, melon seeds, and other seeds.

3) Temple fairs, red lanterns, and paper-cuts. Every building, street, and houses is decorated with red as it is the main color for the festival. People gather together to visit temples, see the fireworks, and light lanterns, which are put up for decoration, let loose to fly, and floated in rivers.

4) Dragon and lion dances. These dances are very popular and common during Chinese New Year. These “dragons” and “lions” are formed by a group of people who dances to the beat of the drum as they believe these animals scare evil spirits away.

5) Red envelopes. “Hongbao” in Chinese pinyin are used to put money in the hope of giving good luck. These envelopes are given to younger people and (retired) seniors.

These and many more are just some of the interesting things to love about Chinese New Year.

But if you want to witness traditional Chinese culture, this is the best time to visit China. Good luck and safe travels!