Preparations for the Chinese New Year in old China start well in advance of the New Year's Day. The 24th of the twelfth month is set aside for the annual housecleaning. Every household will give a thorough cleaning to their houses, clothes, bedclothes and all utensils,(器具) to bid farewell to the old year and to usher in the new. It is believed the cleaning sweeps away bad luck and makes the house ready for good luck to enter. All brooms and dustpans are put away on New Year's Eve so good luck cannot be swept away.
Spring couplets, written in black ink on large vertical scrolls of red paper, are put on the walls or on the sides of the doors. These couplets, short poems written in classical Chinese, are expressions of good wishes for the family in the coming year. In addition, symbolic flowers and fruits are used to decorate the house. Animated(活生生的) door gods, scrolls of happiness, beautiful window flowers, colorful New Year paintings and flower-decorated red lanterns, all gives a happy and prosperous atmosphere of the Festival.
Storeowners are busy as everybody goes purchasing for the New Year, from edible(食用的) oil, rice, chicken, fish and meat, to fruit, candies and nuts, and to various decorations, new clothes and shoes for children as well as gifts for friends and relatives.