19 Feb Time for Another New Year…a Chinese New Year
Happy Chinese New Year!
Unless you are Chinese or have been deeply indoctrinated into Chinese culture (neither of which experiences I have had), the most the average person knows about Chinese New Year is that it involves a lot of lanterns, a lot of red, and humungous dragons.
Now, I am not an expert at all on Chinese New Years except for the fact that it starts today and it’s the year of the Goat (or Sheep or Ram, depending on how you translate). However, as modern people living in a globalized society (particularly a ‘melting pot’ like the United States), it’s important to learn about other cultures instead of dismissing them. If you are Chinese or of Chinese heritage, you can either skip this post or laugh at me in my ignorance (pleas forgive me, all I have is a brief New Year’s experience and Google). If you’re interested in knowing about this most important day in the Chinese calendar, read on!
Chinese New Year occurs every year on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar and is also known as the Spring Festival, as it sees off the Winter Solstice. It comes from a legend that each year, the monster Nian came to terrorize the villages and the only way to ward him off was with loud noises, firecrackers, and the color red.
The lunar calendar goes in 12 year cycles, each new year represented by an animal. Last year was the Year of the Horse and it just changed to the Year of the Goat. People born in these different years have different attributes and certain signs are more or less unlucky for them. One universal thing for all birth years is when your year comes up, it’s a bad luck year. So, sorry if you were born in the years 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, or 1967…this may be an unfortunate year for you.
Celebrating the Chinese New Year takes 7 days and it a very family oriented festival. On New Year’s Eve, there is a Reunion dinner full of food, music, and giving red envelopes full of money to children. Most commonly, people eat fish and dumplings. Fireworks go off at midnight, lanterns are lit, and there is a great parade the next day full of color and those famous Chinese dragons.
If you get the chance, I would encourage trying to attend some New Year festivities. There are plenty of options to get involved, even if you just spring out of bed to see the parade. Happy New Year!
For more on the history of Chinese New Year, click here
If you want to know more about the Chinese Zodiac (and if 2015 will be a prosperous year for you), click here