To most, the new year rang in on January 1st. The first day of 2018 has begun and we’re getting used to writing the year on our essays and schedules; however, to the Chinese community, the Chinese Lunar New Year is right around the corner. With preparations already begun, the Chinese New Year usually falls around January 21st and ends February 20th at it’s latest.
This year, February 8th is the pre-New Year where prep occurs and New Year’s Eve is on February 15th. There are multiple traditional dishes such as Yuanxiao (a sweet dumpling with nuts inside), Bazio (a popular breakfast treat), and Tangyan (a sweet rice ball with ginger syrup) just to name a few.
While Chinese New Year prep begins with food, it slowly turns into a family based event where honor and luck play heavy roles. From 11th grade Da Vinci Communications (DVC) student Koby Wu, she says “during the holiday my family usually would eat Dim sum with all my cousins and relatives. Then we would go back to my grandmas to ‘pray’ or pay respects to all of our passes ancestors. Then we do this thing called ‘Joss Paper’ where we would burn fake paper money and other paper things (cars, clothes, etc.) which is meant to be sent to our passed relatives in heaven.”
Not only are family members enjoying the traditional meal, but their ancestors are honored in this process with gifts and portions of the meal they enjoyed. Wu also stated that another aspect of creating good luck during the time is to “Honor our grandparents who are still alive, we would do a tea ceremony (give tea) and then we would receive red envelopes with money” as mutual signs of respect and hope for luck.
Once the food has been eaten and the ancestors have been celebrated, the grand finales of the new year arrive-The Lantern Festival and The Dragon Dance. The Lantern Festival is exactly what it sounds like, but the ceremony is more meaningful than it may seem on the surface.
The tradition says that once you release the lanterns, a wish or dream comes into the world and brings more hope to all. The Dragon Dance is actually performed during the Lantern Festival (February 15th-16th) to keep evil spirits away (because dragons are strong symbols of power) and bring even more luck to the people.
Another large tradition is naming the zodiac sign of the year as designated by the lunar calendar- for instance, upcoming 2018 is said to be the Year of the Dog. From The Chinese New Year 2018 website funded by the event planners in Downtown LA, the year of the dog is associated with “the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) xū (戌), and the hours 7–9 in the evening. In the terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Dog is yang” as well as mentioning the personality of those in the year of the dog as “honest and just, they are popular in social circles. .good at helping others find and fix their bad habits. .despite how they act, they are worried and anxious inside, however, they will not let this stop them” showing all positive outlooks for all involved in this new year to come.
Overall, the newest celebration of the lunar new year is right around the corner, and we couldn’t be more lucky to see it.