China Celebrates a Joyful New Year

Margaret Ross, Staff Writer

by Margaret Ross

The Chinese New Year Celebration began on Jan. 31, marking the transition from the Year of the Snake Calendar to the Year of the Horse.
The celebration will conclude on Feb. 15, with the famous Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco beginning at 5:15 p.m. Over 100 units will proceed through Chinatown, many featuring the symbol of the coming lunar year: the horse. Dancers, acrobats, and musicians will adorn the streets for the festivities. The grand finale features the Golden Dragon-over 200 ft. long and carried by 100 people. The Golden Dragon is the pride of Chinatown at the ceremony.
As Miramonte students embrace the new semester, some are embracing the new year. Students celebrate their Chinese heritage during this festivity by attending the parade and recognizing the Chinese values of fortune and longevity.
“All my relatives live in China this year, but usually the whole family would get together and eat yummy food. All of the children in my family receive red envelopes as a token of love and future luck,” junior Elaine Xu said.
The holiday is especially fun for younger kids, who receive money or chocolate coins in their envelopes. Small gifts, usually food or sweets, are sometimes exchanged between friends.
Red, corresponding with fire, is a symbol of joy and fortune, and is a central color of most Chinese celebrations. As per Chinese custom, fireworks are set off to drive away evil spirits. All of the traditions are symbolic of ushering in a joyful, prosperous New Year.
“We celebrate this because it is the start of a new year, according to the zodiac calendar. It’s for new beginnings, to celebrate the start of spring and the end of winter. It’s like a new life,” Xu said.
“Chinese New Year celebrates the arrival of spring, which is the most important season of the year,” senior Tori Wong said.
Chinese New Year, literally translating to Spring Festival, incorporates brilliant colors and symbols of good luck to invite a spring of rebirth. Foods with names that sound similar to prosperity or good luck fill holiday tables.
The pronunciation of the word for “leek” makes it a homophone for “calculating money,” just another example of the holiday’s focus on encouraging joy and prosperity in the new year. Similarly, mandarin oranges, fish, and chicken are symbolic foods of the holiday.
Traditions and symbols direct the activity of the celebratoion. “We have to sweep before Chinese New Year, not during or after, or else we sweep away the wealth,” Wong said.