A Look into the Chinese New Year
February 16, 2018
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a lunar calendar based event dating back at least four thousand years. Each year the holiday begins on the first full moon between January 21st and February 20th and lasts for 15 days. This year’s Chinese New Year lands on February 16th.
In America the celebrations are more timid, but in China and surrounding countries (such as Vietnam, North and South Korea, and indonesia) parades run up and down the streets daily. Each New Year correlates with one of the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The holiday is also assigned an animal from a rotating zodiac of 12 animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This Chinese New Year is represented by the Earth Dog. According to Chinese astrology, children born in this year will be loyal and honest.
Even with an estimated 1.4 billion people celebrating this holiday every year, there is a surprising amount of unfamiliarity on how the Chinese New Year is celebrated. Since it is not an official holiday nor is it widely celebrated in public in America, the closest some will get to celebrating the Chinese New Year is watching it through a screen. “Usually we all pick a family and we all cram all of our family members in one house. Everyone brings food, but usually it is the person whose house it is that is responsible for the cooking,” junior Lydia Nong explained, “We have parties in the yard and there is lots of firecrackers and festivals.”
All across the world, the holiday is very family and friend oriented. “We pray with each other, wish each other good luck, and we give each other charms in red envelopes with lucky money,” Nong continued, “Chinese New Year is all about telling each other to have a good year.”
Chinese New Year is also riddled with symbols not just in their astrology but also throughout the celebration as well. “All foods have a different meaning. Dome mean wisdom, some mean health,” Nong explained.
This ancient holiday is welcome to anyone who is interested in appreciating the Chinese culture, and many places in Iowa have public celebrations that welcome anyone to attend. For example, February 17th the 15th annual Chinese New Year at Grand View University Student Center is being held by the Chinese Association of Iowa, or the 2018 Chinese New Year Gala in the Ames City Auditorium on February 23.