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Chinese Lunar New Year: Celebrating the Year of the Tiger

Second graders at Montour made dragon mask art projects while learning about Chinese New Year.


By Tara Yilmaz

→ Did you know Chinese New Year is on Feb. 1 this year? The date for the festival changes every year but always falls between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. Now known as the Year of the Tiger, 2022 transitioned from The Year of the Ox in 2021.

Did you know there are 12 Chinese zodiac animals? They are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Rooster, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Dog and Pig. The year of the Tiger represents strength and courage.

Did you know the Chinese New Year is a solemn holiday? According to the Newham Chinese Association, the Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. The term Lunar New Year refers to the annual holiday determined by the site of the new moon. Spring Festival is how it’s usually referred to in mainland China.

Did you know this festival has been celebrated every year in China for more than 3,500 years? It dates back to the Shang Dynasty and is now celebrated around the globe. The holiday is based on removing the bad and the old and welcoming the new and good. Moreover, it’s a time to worship ancestors, rid evil spirits and pray for a good harvest. Just like a lot of holidays, this one is also surrounded by myth and folklore.

Did you know a mythical beast named Nian is part of Chinese New Year’s origin story? The mythical beast would eat livestock, crops and people on the eve of the new year. He would spend the night causing destruction and the people would attempt to be proactive and leave food in front of their homes to prevent Nian from destroying property or inflicting physical harm. Folklore states that it was a wise old man who figured out Nian feared loud noises and the color red. There must’ve been some truth behind that wise old man's reasoning because the trickle-down effect occurred and people all over China hung red lanterns, red scrolls and crackled bamboo to scare Nian away. According to legend, Nian never made another appearance.

Did you know Chinese New Year is a 15-day festival? The New York Public Library online states each day are tied to having special meanings and traditions to honor. The days’ significance and customs vary between religions and beliefs. Accomplishing a plethora of traditions in one day could imaginably be difficult but having multiple days could make it achievable. Depending on which belief offers different theories. Among the many myths, folklores or legends, the story of Nuwa, the goddess who created the world gives a determining factor of why the holiday is 15 days. It is believed that Nuwa spent the first six days creating animals, the seventh day creating humans, and the eighth day grains. Folklore also tells the tale of the God of Wealth who brought good fortune to people, God of Kitchen, who watches over households and many other mystical beings supplying comfort and protection.

Did you know this festival has many similarities to other cultures’ new year celebrations? From the mainland of China to stateside USA, food, family, friends, household chores and economics are all mixed in during the changing of the Gregorian or Lunar calendar year. Eating an abundance of dumplings symbolizes wealth, refraining from cleaning the house to avert sweeping good luck out the door, giving red envelopes full of money, and most of all, spending the holiday with friends and family. There are more similarities than differences when it comes to celebrating the new year. Only foods and folklores are the degree of difference but it’s the one common factor that unites it. The sending of best wishes for health, wealth and prosperity in the new year is celebrated by all.


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