Chinese New Year


Ariel Sun, Reporter

On the first day of the Lunar Calendar, Chinese people around the world celebrate Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. Children get hong baos, or red pockets/envelopes with money and treats from adults. Everyone gathers with friends, family, relatives, and neighbors to feast and party far into the night. The Chinese celebrate their Lunar New Year more than us people in America celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Day combined. Why do the Chinese celebrate this important holiday and how did this tradition start?

Chinese New Year was actually originally celebrated to scare away a beast named “Nian” (mandarin for year) who was known for going to villages at the end of each year and attacking and killing villagers, especially children. The villagers used loud noises and bright lights such as fireworks to scare the beast away, and that activity resulted in the Chinese New Year we know today.

After the dinner, the adults will place money in red envelopes to give to the children in exchange for lucky phrases for blessings,” Mrs. Vivian Lau, Chinese teacher, said.

Other holiday traditions are things such as decorating, traditional clothing, food, and visiting relatives.

“Some other traditions are dragon dance and fireworks to drive away the evil spirits,” Mrs. Lau, said.

During Christmas time, many families decorate their houses with lights, the Nativity of Jesus, blow up Santa’s, igloos, and many other things. Some very popular Chinese New Year decorations are red lanterns, red paper dragons, red fans, red clothes, RED EVERYTHING!! The color red represents fire, joy, good luck, and happiness. It represents wealth, riches, completeness, and metal.

“The most popular New Year decorations are upside down 福 (which means blessing has arrived), red couplets on each side of the door, lanterns, paper cutting, etc. Most of the decorations are red in color. A few days before the Chinese New Year, people will do a complete cleaning of the house which signifies to remove the old and welcome the new. After the cleaning, people will decorate the house to welcome the New Year,” Mrs. Lau, said.

Traditional Chinese apparel is also very important. The clothes are usually red. Sometimes they are blue, pink other different colors, but red is the most popular and traditional. Girls wear dresses while boys wear a suit-like jacket and pants. Both dresses and suits usually have gold designs such as dragons, flowers, and Chinese words. Sometimes the designs are purple, pink, blue, and/or cream colored as well. Chinese jewelry includes gold bracelets with little bells, necklaces with lucky Chinese words engraved on them and charms of the zodiac animal the coming new year. But what most Chinese New Year celebrating people most look forward to is the food.

“On Chinese New Year’s Eve, the whole family gathers around the table to eat dinner together,” Mrs. Lau said.

Food is one of the most important and enjoyed parts of celebrating and preparing Chinese New Year. People eat many foods such as long noodles, dumpling, fish, tangerines, and oranges. Long noodles represent happiness and along life, dumplings represent wealth, fish represents a growth in prosperity, and tangerines and oranges represent fullness and wealth. The meal usually ends not with a dessert, but with fish because it is thought that eating fish will bring them wealth in the new year.

“Certain foods or lucky dishes are eaten during the Chinese New Year for their symbolic meaning, for example, fish, dumplings, and noodles. A homonym for the word “fish” in Chinese is surplus, so eating fish signifies having surplus in the new year. Dumplings represent riches and long noodles symbolize a wish for longevity,” Mrs. Lau, said.

This upcoming Chinese New Year will be the year of the Dog. It is the eleventh Chinese zodiac, before the Pig and after the Rooster. Dogs are honest, loyal, the truest friends, and most reliable partners. In other words, the Dog symbolizes fidelity. Their most important aspect is their loyalty. They will never desert their friends and family.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in America is very different from celebrating it in China. Many Chinese children in America do not get the opportunity celebrate in China because Chinese New Year is in the middle of the school year and it is too hard to skip school.

What is Chinese New Year about? Chinese New Year is all about the experience with your family, friends, and relatives.

“Chinese New Year is a very important traditional holiday celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar,” Mrs. Lau, said. “In China and other places with Chinese population, such as Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Chinese New Year is a national holiday that is celebrated with families and friends.”