by Steven Wang, junior writing coach
After the end of crackling fireworks and midnight parties, you may have thought the new year was over. Thankfully, another new year is fast approaching: the Lunar New Year. While this holiday does unfortunately appear in the midst of finals week, it’s nice to know that something more lighthearted is coming after this season of stress and tight schedules.
**Disclaimer: The Lunar New Year is celebrated by various cultures, but this post will be about my personal experience and knowledge regarding Chinese New Year.**
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, originates from a fable about a mythical beast named “nian”, which has also become the modern day word for year in Chinese. Every year, the creature terrorized villages—consuming crops, livestock, and even local villagers. Over the course of time, these Chinese villages discovered that the beast feared loud noises and bright colors. As a result, villages hung up bright red lanterns and red cut-outs for their door frames and created loud firecrackers to frighten the beast.
Even after all this time, the celebration hasn’t changed much, but there are a few more traditions not outlined in the ancient story. For example, it’s customary to make dumplings with your family on New Year’s Eve and eat fish to bring prosperity and good fortune into the new year. Additionally, children bow to their elders to wish them a happy new year and are often rewarded with a red envelope or “hong bao.” These envelopes have money stuffed inside and act as a symbol of fortune for the younger generation.
Depending on the lunar calendar, the holiday typically lands between late January to early February with the 2020 Lunar New Year on January 25th. Chinese New Year follows the ancient tradition of the zodiac on a twelve-year cycle. This year is the year of the rat.
As interesting as the traditions of the Lunar New Year are, to me, Chinese New Year represents more than just a day to stuff myself with dumplings or acquire some cash. It’s a day to recognize how thankful I am to be with my family. Even though my relatives live thousands of miles away in China, the New Year has always served as a unifying factor between us and an opportunity for me to take pride in my cultural heritage.
In the end, even if you don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year, it’s nice to kick back and open your mind to the fascinating origins of other cultural traditions. Happy Lunar New Year everyone! 春节快乐!