Column: Chinese New Year and our traditions

For some students here at MU, it’s still 2014.

Do you know that we are still in the year of 2014? According to the Chinese Lunar New Year calendar, there is still a week until we step into the year of 2015. It might sound crazy as we are already two months into 2015, but the people in China are still following this tradition to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

This year, the Chinese New Year is set on Feb. 19. Do you know which Chinese zodiac is for the year of 2015? It was the Year of Horse in the past year; we are in the Year of Sheep, or the Year of Goat. Is there a pattern for the Chinese zodiac? Do you know which Chinese zodiac sign you belong to?

My grandmother, who is in her 80s, is a firm believer in the Chinese lunar calendar. The modern Gregorian calendar, or the Western calendar, does not make any sense to my grandmother. The Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals signs. In other words, the Chinese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. My grandmother and I both belong to the same animal sign, a Dog. Other animal’s signs are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster and Pig. For instance, people who were born in 1993 are mostly a Rooster, most people who were born in 1994 are a Dog, and you are a Pig if you were born in 1995.

Chinese New Year in China is like the combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas in the States. It is the biggest festival of the year. People gather around for celebration. Traditions like giving out “red packets,” which are monetary gifts given by married couples to children, are still happening every year in China.

But the most important thing about Chinese New Year is people gathering around. You will have the chance to see relatives whom you have only seen once or twice in a year. Relatives and friends gather for the meal of the year. The elderly usually host the lunch or dinner, where they cook the most expensive ingredients that they have saved up in the past year. I can even remember my sisters and I needing to stand up while eating because of the huge number of relatives we have. Moreover, you can see the color red appearing anywhere in China during this time of year, including everyone’s outfits.

Being away from home, one of the things I have missed the most is definitely spending Chinese New Year with my family. And I am sure that most Chinese students who are studying abroad feel the same. Not only do I miss the chance to earn some extra cash money but the warmth I feel everywhere I go, the smiles on everyone’s face and, most importantly, being with my family and friends. It is truly one of the most fascinating thing to see if you ever go visit China during Chinese New Year.

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