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Students celebrate the Chinese New Year

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Students celebrate the Chinese New Year

Belle deCastro, Opinions editor

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From fireworks and festivals to superstitions and red decorations, the festivities are only just beginning for those celebrating the Chinese New Year. Tuesday, Feb. 5 marked the beginning of the Year of the Pig in China, and the holiday runs until Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Determined by the first day of China’s lunar calendar, New Year’s Day is within a day of the second new moon before the spring equinox moon phase. This holiday is also known as the Spring Festival because the people are looking forward to the spring.

Previously the Year of the Dog in 2018, February 2019 marks the Year of the Pig. People born in this year “belong to the Pig.” There are specific qualities attributed to people born in this year including personality traits such as diligent, compassionate and generous.

Chinese family coming together to eat the “reunion dinner.” Photo courtesy of Sam Fu

There are four major parts of this holiday: putting up decorations, eating reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, firecrackers and fireworks and giving red envelopes and other gifts. “The activities are like a combination of Christmas and Thanksgiving. We spend a lot of time with our family,” said senior Sam Fu, foreign exchange student from China.

The most important meal of the year is this New Year’s Eve dinner called the “reunion dinner.” This holiday is a time for families to be together, no matter where they are. Similar to watching the ball drop in New York’s Time Square, families stay up and await the arrival of their relatives from all over. Along with the dinner, families watch one of the most-watched TV shows in China, the Spring Festival Gala.

Infographic describing the time period before and during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Photo from www.chinahighlights.com

Among these traditions, the color red is a prominent theme throughout this holiday. Everywhere the Chinese New Year is celebrated is decorated with a lot of red. Being an auspicious color, red lanterns are hung in streets and red couplets are pasted on doors. These kind of public decorations are usually done about a month before the holiday, but home decorations are done on Chinese New Year’s Eve. The significance of red stems from an ancient fairytale.

Fu explained that the tale is centered around this monster called “Nian” who comes out and eats people during the Chinese New Year’s Eve. However, Nian is afraid of red things and loud noises. To keep him away, people will put red couplets on their back doors, and the kids will play with fireworks to make loud noises in order to scare him away. From this ancient tale stems the traditions including all the red, the fireworks, and the children getting money in red envelopes for good luck and protection.

Traditional foods served at the “reunion dinner.” Photo courtesy of Sam Fu

All throughout the 15 days of this holiday, families are brought together to celebrate these unique cultural traditions and activities. These festivities have been around for over 3,000 years, and the Chinese calendar is already set for years. 

Factual information from https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/special-report/chinese-new-year/