Lesson 16 At a Family Gathering

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Spring Festival, the Lunar New Year, is the biggest holiday in China. Many students and employees take vacations during this time. New Year's is a time of unity, and it is very important for families to reunite during this time.

People fastidiously prepare their homes in anticipation of the New Year. They clean their homes thoroughly, apply fresh coats of paint to the exteriors of their homes, and mend any thing that need repairs with an "out with the old, in with the new" spirit.
Spring Festival couplets ("春联", chūn lián) and New Year's greetings written on red paper are pasted on and around the doors and windows of houses. One of the most common greetings is happiness, good fortune and blessing. "福" (fú), The actual piece of paper, the "福字" or fú zì, means "blessing." Often the blessing character is hung upside down. One interpretation of this practice is that it is a play on the words. "福倒了" (fú dào le, means " 'fu' upside down"), because it sounds the same as "福到了" (fú dào le), which means a blessing has arrived.