By Amber Antinora
How do you celebrate New Year’s? In Western culture, we celebrate by metaphorically cleansing and restarting, ready to take on the year. In China, people don’t necessarily make resolutions and celebration isn’t even in December but it’s just as grand.
Lunar New Year is a long tradition in China, it has been celebrated for over 4,000 years and lasts 15 days each year. Celebrations consist of huge, colorful festivals. Parades with intricate floats, fireworks, dragon and lion dances and other festivities. More casual traditions include cleaning the house, putting out flowers, tangerines, oranges and other symbols of good luck. A large part of Lunar New Year is traveling to be with family. It is predicted that 3.6 billion people will travel around China during celebration period via cars, trains and planes.
Lunar New Year has been celebrated for centuries and mostly focused on the household, ancestors and deities. Sacrifices of food and materials were offered, thorough cleaning and large feasts were the original traditions. In 1912, China adopted the Gregorian, or “western”, calendar, making their official New Year’s Day the same as Americas. Under Mao Zedong’s communist rule, people were not allowed to observe Lunar New Year. In 1996, China re-adopted the holiday and allowed a week-long break. The modernized version is now widely referred to as Spring Festival and doesn’t have as much of a religious influence. The holiday is more about a break from work instead of honoring ancestors and gods. Sometimes guests will present gifts but it’s standard to give two oranges as a sign of good luck. The family buys new clothes for the new year.
Chinese New Year in America is still celebrated by some Chinese Americans and in big cities. Since there is a Chinese population of around 2.7 million people, more casual traditions are observed by some ( visiting family, feasting, cleaning). In places with large “Chinatowns”,- New York, Brooklyn and many others- will have festivals similar to ones in China. The largest Chinatown in America is in San Francisco. Their Spring Festival annually brings in around one million celebrators.
The holiday has it’s own zodiac. 2016 is the year of the monkey. Each has personality predictions, love compatibility, fortune and suspicions. This Lunar New Year, feel free to celebrate and get ready for a prosperous year.
This editorial had the help of Naomi Blakely, an alumni from Sterling High School that was originally from Singapore! She influenced my interest in the holiday and gave me a lot of information.