Christina’s Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, which falls on January 22 this year, it’s a time for Chinese families like mine to gather together to celebrate the passing of the old year and to welcome the New Year, sharing the joy of the family reunion.
Year of the Rabbit
Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar, with the first day of the month beginning during the new moon. Because of that, the Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year between January 21 and February 21.
The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in Mandarin-speaking communities and the Lunar New Year in China’s neighbouring cultures. It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Chinese populations.
Each year features one of 12 animals on the Chinese Zodiac, and this year is dedicated to the Rabbit
How we celebrate
In my family, the first thing we do to celebrate Chinese New Year is to thoroughly clean the house to sweep away bad luck and welcome the new year.
We also decorate the house with red everywhere which is an auspicious colour during the Chinese New Year. We hang red lanterns in and outside the house and have a large Chinese character LUCK(福) displayed on our front door.
As an important family reunion occasion, food and drink are a crucial part of the Chinese New Year celebration. Members of the family sit around a big table to have a New Year’s Eve dinner. Older and senior members of the family give the younger ones red envelops filled with money as a way of spreading good luck.
After dinner the family gathers to watch the New Year’s Eve gala, a live TV show broadcasted annually on New Year’s Eve. The gala featuring a variety of performances, aims to spread positive energy, show the country’s creativity and vigor, and pay attribute to ordinary people who worked hard over the past year.
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, fireworks and firecrackers would be set off to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. In the following days, people would visit temples to bring luck for the coming year, watch street performances such as Lion and Dragon dances, and meet up with friends to offer good luck wishes to each other.
What Chinese New Year means to me
When I was a child, nothing was more exciting to me than receiving red envelopes during Chinese New Year. As I grew older, I realized that it was not the money or gifts I received that made my Chinese New Year memorable, but rather the time I spent with my family. My first year studying in Ireland was the first time I was not at home during Chinese New Year. I gathered with my Chinese friends to celebrate. We cooked a hotpot dinner and watched the New Year’s Eve gala. Celebrating Chinese New Year allowed me to reconnect with my culture while I was away from home.
This year, I’ll continue the tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year with my friends and connecting with my family online. No matter how I celebrate Chinese New Year, two things remain constant: good food and good company.
Written by Christina Pei