Also known as “Spring Festival” (春节 or chūn jié), this is the most important holiday of the year for over 1.5 billion people in the world.
Chinese New Year celebrations heavily influence the celebrations of Lunar New Year in other Asian countries, including Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Because it is based on a lunar calendar, the date changes slightly every year. This year Chinese New Year is January 25, 2020. The official holiday lasts until Thursday, February 4. Traditionally the Spring Festival lasts until the 15th day of the new month with the Lantern Festival.
The history of the Chinese New Year festival stretches back thousands of years before recorded history. During different dynasties, customs were added or changed over many centuries. ‘Guo nian’(过年), which is also synonymous with celebrating the new year, literally means ‘passing of a year’ but the word, ‘nian’ also was the name of mythical monster from a centuries-old Chinese legend, which was a great threat. People scared the monster away by making loud noises with firecrackers and putting up red paper cutouts. This is the reason why the performance of the Lion Dance and playing drums and gongs is so popular at many Chinese festival events.
This holiday is seen by many East Asians as the origins of their spirituality, home rituals, values and ethics. Giving out red envelopes that contain money is another common tradition for Chinese and East Asian families. The red envelope is to keep evil or bad luck away and the money is to bring wealth and good fortune. It is a sign of their cultural respect to the people who protect their loved ones from bad luck, evil, and the illnesses from which their loved ones suffer. The red envelope also serves as a protective shield from bad spirits.
Barnesville School honors the cultures and traditions of its students and those around the world. Thank you to Yuen Family for contributing this story to our community! Happy Lunar New Year!