According to Chinese tradition, preparations for the festival start from the end of the last lunar month of the previous year. Festival celebrations extend until the Lantern Festival on the 15th of the first lunar month of the New Year. However, a fast-paced and hectic lifestyle makes it difficult for many Chinese to spend an entire month celebrating the festival. This is why the central government decided to declare the first week of the festival a public holiday.
Spring Festival traditions abound, although not all are practiced today. These include home spring cleaning, shopping for festival goodies, decorating homes with New Year Pictures and Spring Festival couplets, lighting firecrackers, and strolling around temple fairs. On New Year's Eve, family members gather together to have a family feast. In northern China, jiaozi or dumplings (with meat and vegetable stuffing) are the delicacy of choice, while people in southern China prefer niangao (New Year cake).
Many of China's ethnic minorities celebrate their Lunar New Year around the same time as the Han people, although some maintain their own calendars.