by Teresa Narey
Introduction and Background:
February 5, 2019 marks the first day of the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year. The holiday begins on the night of the first new moon of the year and continues for the next several days, as the moon gets fuller. For this reason, the holiday can occur in January or February, depending on the year and phase of the moon. During this time, people celebrate with family by decorating their homes, eating special foods, and attending festivals. They also do lots of cleaning, as this time of year marks the arrival of spring, and springtime is known for renewal.
The Lunar New Year is China’s most important holiday. The celebration started a long time ago when it is said that a monster named Nian (pronounced “NEE-ahn”) attacked Chinese villages. People scared Nian away with loud noises, fire, the color red, and lanterns. The defeat of Nian became a reason to celebrate the Lunar New Year. According to the Chinese calendar, each year is represented by an animal: ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, or rat. These animals comprise the Chinese zodiac and have unique traits attributed to them. Some believe that people embody the same traits as the animals that symbolize the years in which they were born. This year is the Year of the Pig or Zhū (pronounced “joo”), an animal that symbolizes wealth. People born during the Year of the Pig are believed to be logical and kind, among other things. Continue reading