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On February 1st, it was the start of the Chinese New Year! The first day of the lunar calendar usually occurs between January 20th and February 21st on the Gregorian calendar. The Chinese New Year is a traditional holiday in China. I think it is fun and there is plenty of good food to eat! 

About the Lunar calendar

Instead of having a fixed number of days, the lunar calendar uses the moon to decide the length of the year. Instead of months, the lunar calendar uses cycles of the moon. There are always 12 moon cycles in the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year is not just used in China. It is also used in South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and India. If you use the lunar calendar, you can say you have two birthdays, one for the lunar calendar, and one for the Gregorian calendar. Depending on which year you were born, you could have a different Chinese zodiac sign. Here is a wonderful story about how the Chinese zodiac came to be:

A long time ago, the jade emperor needed a way to help the people of China keep track of time. He sent for all of the animals to come to him, so he could assign them a year to make things simpler to keep track of time. When they came, he decided that the years would be chosen using a race. When they had to swim across a river, the mouse rode on the back of the ox and hopped off when they reached the shore, leaving the ox behind. Because of this, the mouse came in first. The animals finished the race in this order: Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. This is not genuinely accurate, because it only counts as a certain zodiac if your birthday was after the Chinese New Year of that year.

Why is the Chinese New Year celebrated?

The Chinese New Year lasts for fifteen days. Let me introduce you to the purpose of the Chinese New Year celebrations by telling you this story of the Nian monster: 

A long time ago in China, there was a monster called “Nian,” meaning ‘year’ in Chinese. Every year on New Year’s Eve, he would come down to the village and feast on the villagers and the animals in the village. Then, he would return to his home, not to be seen until next New Year’s Eve. To make sure that they were not eaten or hurt, the villagers would flee from the village every year on New Year’s Eve. One year, an old man stayed in the village to try and get rid of the Nian monster. The old man knew that the Nian monster was scared of red and loud noises. When the Nian monster came to the village, the old man was waiting with his firecrackers and had decorated the house in red. The Nian monster was scared and returned to the mountains. This is why it is tradition to light off firecrackers and hang up red on Chinese New Year. We also celebrate Chinese New Year to bring fruitful luck in the coming year and to welcome in spring.

How do we celebrate Chinese New Year?

First, on the last days before the lunar month, you should clean the house to rid it of any substandard luck. Then, you should go shopping for the new year. On Chinese New Years’ Eve, you put up spring couplets and then have a reunion dinner with your family. Afterward, you should give kids red envelopes, or lucky money. After that, you should stay up late so that you can be awake when the new year comes. On Chinese New Year’s day, you should set off fireworks and firecrackers and offer sacrifices to your ancestors. Chinese New Year can last up to 15 days, so there is more to do. On days 2-7, you should visit relatives and friends. On day eight, most people go back to work, and on day 15, most people light up lanterns and watch them float away into the night sky. Then people eat sweet dumplings and watch more fireworks.

What to eat for Chinese New Year

On Chinese New Year, you should eat fish to increase your prosperity in the coming year. This is because the Chinese word for fish sounds comparable to “yu,” which is the word for prosperity in Chinese. You should also eat dumplings for wealth. This is because the dumplings are round, so they look similar to China’s ancient money. You should eat spring rolls as well. This is to welcome in spring. “Tangyuan,” or sweet rice balls, are eaten during Chinese New Year because they signify family togetherness. You should also eat “Niangao,” or glutinous rice cakes because they also symbolize better prosperity. Finally, you should eat long noodles. These long noodles symbolize happiness and prosperity. 

What shouldn’t you do in the Chinese New Year?

You should not wash your hair or clothes because it washes away profitable luck, and you should not do any needlework, say knitting, because it depletes wealth. If you sweep, you will sweep away wealth and prosperity. Never say any unlucky words (for example, saying “death will bring death). Do not eat porridge because it brings poverty, and if you cry, it will bring inferior luck to you. Do not kill anything, because it causes misfortune. Do not wear black or white clothes because they symbolize death. If you break dishes or have an odd amount of money in your wallet, it will bring you awful luck. Do not use scissors or knives because they cut wealth. If you have any hospital visits during Chinese New Year, it will bring illness in the coming year, and if you borrow or lend money, it will lead to debt.

I love Chinese new year because I think it is really fun to celebrate! If you are looking for a new holiday that you are looking to celebrate, I would recommend celebrating Chinese new year! The ere are so many fun things to do and good things to eat! 新年快乐!