Chinese New Year
Spring Festival is the most important festivity for Chinese people. It is also called the Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year. Every year corresponds with an animal’s name. These animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. A Chinese legend says that these twelve animals had a race and this is how the animals have a ranking order. The first Chinese lunar year was named after the animal that arrived destination first; other eleven years were named after the order in which the animals arrived in the race. The clever rat jumped onto the ox’s back then at the end jumped over the ox’s head to arrive first! Chinese people believe that a person born in a particular year has some of the characteristics of that year’s animal. The coming year is sheep year, which starts on February 19th.
The celebration actually starts on New Year’s Eve, which is similar to Christmas Eve. By New Year’s Eve, Chinese people will clean the entire home, which means getting rid of all the bad lucks associated with the old year. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, all family members enjoy a big, delicious meal together. It is very important for Chinese people to have a reunion with their families on this occasion. Fish is always part of the dinner because it represents abundance. On New Year’s Day, all Chinese children wear new clothes with bright colors and red is considered a lucky color. Parents and relatives give children a traditional New Year’s gift called lucky money. This money is put into bright red and gold envelopes, which signifies that children have become one year older.
People will have breakfast with families at home on the New Year’s Day. After breakfast, many people go to different community activities celebrating the New Year. The lion dancers are always part of the festivities. The lion has a big head and long body made of clothes. The lion dance is accompanied by drums, cymbals and noisy firecrackers. According to ancient traditions, the huge noise frightens away evil spirits. The dragon is the most important figure of the Chinese New Year festivities and parades. The dragon is considered a lucky figure. A parade dragon can be 20 to 30 meters long. Therefore, 20 or more men are needed to move the dragon. There are also acrobats and musicians in beautiful costumes. Chinese people share this happy time with their families and friends. Happy Chinese New Year!
Submitted by Peiran Zheng