I've recently been reading through Ennin's journal 《入唐求法巡禮行記》 where he describes in detail day by day his travels through China in the mid 9th century. He was a Japanese Tendai monk who studied abroad in China for several years and saw firsthand the great Buddhist repression of 845. The journal itself is a great source for learning about the daily activities and social atmosphere of that period.
The following is his entry for New Years. Chinese New Years is coming soon, so I thought it might be interesting for some people to see a description of New Years from the Tang Dynasty.
12th Month, 29th Day.
Evening – the monastics and the laity together burnt paper money. The laity later in the night burnt bamboo and with a popping sound said, “Wansui! [Banzai]” In the streets there are a hundred varieties of food and it is exceptionally full. In Japan on this night people have lamps everywhere in the house, courtyard, rooms and in front of the gate. The Great Tang [China] is not so as only a [single] lamp is kept illuminated all the time which is unlike my country. The temple and houses later in the night strike bells and the assembly of monks gather together in the dining hall to honour the buddha. At the time of honouring the buddha the assembly all get up from their chairs and set some cushions on the ground. After honouring the buddha they again take their seats. At that time there is a logistics monk who in front of the assembly reads and outlines the various expenditures (?) making it known to the assembly. Before it has reached dawn in front of the lamps a meal is consumed. After finishing eating the assembly all disperses to their rooms. At dawn each leaves their room to attend rituals with the assembly and together pay respects. Both temples and households rest for three days.
If you're interested in reading Ennin's journal in the original Chinese please have a look at the following link which contains the whole journal (encoding is Japanese Shift_JIS).http://www.chohoji.or.jp/TENDAI-CD3/6%9 ... 8%93%FA%96