Chinese New Year: Join the Celebration

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chinese new year hero

The Lunar New Year is the largest-celebrated holiday in Chinese culture. Chinese New Year, also known as The Spring Festival, is the East’s equivalent of the American Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year celebration. As many Chinese workers reside away from home for most of the year, this 23-day-long celebration is often spent reconnecting with their dearly missed family members.

year of the rooster chinese lanterns
Edna Winti

2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster

In China, each year is associated with a zodiac animal and an element. The animals representing each year date back to ancient times. Legend says, Buddha asked all the animals to meet with him on Chinese New Year. He named a year after each of the 12 who showed up.

Buddha then declared each person born in the animal’s year would have certain characteristics of that animal. The five elements (Earth, Gold or metal, Wood, Water, and Fire) are found all throughout Chinese cultural beliefs.

The Fire Rooster symbolizes hard work, trust, responsibility and timeliness. Those born in the year of the Rooster may be excited about this, but fair warning: the year of your sign is actually believed to bring you bad luck.

/sshin-nyen kwhy-luh/ (新年快乐)

This is phonetically how to pronounce and traditionally write Xīnnián kuàilè or Happy New Year in Mandarin.

Cheers heard around the planet

1/5 of the world celebrates Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival that follows. These celebrations are the longest in the Chinese calendar, spanning from the last week of the previous lunar year to the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first lunar year (under the year’s first full moon). This means the celebration lasts for half a moon cycle!

spring festival fans
Bridget Coila

Good luck and prosperity

Throughout all the celebrations, lucky money is given out in red envelopes called hongbao. It is also traditional for families to thoroughly cleanse their homes, sweeping away poor fortune through open doors to make way for incoming good luck.

hongbao money packets for luck
Michael McComb

A festival of lights

The Lantern Festival falls on the last day of the Spring Festival celebration. Temples hang lanterns made of decorative red and gold paper inscribed with riddles, which lantern-viewers try to solve.

lantern festival china

They then light a wick inside the lantern and wish for good fortune. The red of the lanterns symbolize fire, which, according to legend, is believed to drive away bad luck.

Performers in dancing lion costumes also roam the streets. This tradition dates back to the year 220. The lion symbolizes strength and bravery and this dance was thought to ward off evil spirits and protect the villages families and livestock.

One tasty tradition of The Lantern Festival is eating tangyuan, or round glutinous rice balls stuffed with different pastes and seeds. This custom symbolizes wholeness and togetherness and is shared with family at the close of the Lantern Festival celebration.