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Chinese Lunar New Year

By Connie Huang, Senior Accountant

UCDS is a diverse community that celebrates many different cultures. One of them is our Chinese community. In previous years, around the time of the Chinese Lunar New Year, we brought in performers from a local lion dance team that performed for the community. Two dancers wore an elaborate lion costume, and several musicians played large wooden drums and assorted cymbals. This year, due to COVID-19, we will not be able to have the performers come to celebrate this joyous time for us, but let me explain a little about what Chinese do in Lunar New Year.

2021, in the Chinese Zodiac, is the year of Ox. Chinese New Year 2021 falls on Friday, February 12th, 2021. Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is China’s most important festival. It is time for families to be together, just like how we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. How long is the Chinese New Year? Celebrations last up to sixteen days, but only the first seven days are considered a public holiday. Traditionally, Chinese New Year activities start as early as three weeks before Chinese New Year’s Eve, but a week before is more typical. One of the traditional activities is cleaning homes. Chinese believe if we clean our home before a new year begins, it will bring us good luck and get rid of all the bad things that happened the previous year.

The main Chinese New Year activities include 1) putting up decorations, 2) eating reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, 3) firecrackers and fireworks, 4) giving red envelopes and other gifts. Red is the main color for the festival, as red is believed to be an auspicious color. Red Chinese lanterns and red couplets are the most popular decorations. Chinese people greet one another with lucky sayings and phrases to wish health, wealth, and good fortune when they meet during Chinese New Year. Then, red envelopes, called “hong bao” in Chinese, filled with money are typically only given to children or unmarried adults.

The Luckiest Things to Do at Chinese New Year

  • Giving money/gifts in lucky numbers and lucky red packaging with lucky greetings.
  • Eating lucky food like fish on New Year’s Eve, especially carp or catfish with some left over for New Year’s Day.
  • Lighting lots of red firecrackers and fireworks to scare away evil and bring good luck.

The Unlucky Things to Do at Chinese New Year

  • Having an accident, especially if it means hospital visits, crying, and breakages: all bad omens.
  • Giving gifts with unlucky meanings, colors, words, or numbers, or even saying something inauspicious.
  • Sweeping up on New Year’s Day: don’t “sweep all your luck away”.

When someone greets you with “新年快乐 (Xīn nián kuài lè, Happy New Year)”, the best and simple reply is: “新年快乐 (Xīn nián kuài lè)”.

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! 新年快乐!