February 12th is Chinese New Year! This is one of the most important holidays in China and is a time to celebrate the new year with family. It is celebrated on the first day of the Chinese calendar.
The Chinese calendar is on a 12-year cycle and each year is represented by an animal. These animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. These zodiac years are in a cycle and have an impact on the upcoming year. Because this year is the year of the Ox, people who are born this year are said to be brave, hardworking, and loyal to friends and family. Your zodiac year is said to be your unlucky year. For example, this year is unlucky for people who were born on previous years of the Ox.
Chinese families prepare for Chinese New Year by cleaning their entire house. This is important because it gets rid of all of the bad things from the past year to prepare for new beginnings. People also cut their hair at this time for the same reason. After that, Chinese families will decorate their house with red because that is a lucky color. A red sign with an upside-down Chinese character is also put on the front door to protect themselves from the sea monster, Nian.
On Chinese New Year family members give each other red envelopes which are filled with money and decorated with symbolic objects like gold coins and fish. Chinese families also have huge family dinners on Chinese New Year and eat symbolic food. Eating dumplings means that you will get more money in the coming year because they are shaped like Chinese coins and eating noodles means that you will have a long life because the noodle strands are so long. During Chinese New Year dinner your plate can also never be empty because that would mean that your luck has run out.
Even if you are not Chinese, appreciating and celebrating cultures different from yours is so important and fun! You can continue to appreciate Chinese New Year by learning more about the holiday or by trying to schedule a family dinner or zoom call to spend time with family and wish them a lucky new year.