The most important festive in the Chinese calendar is the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New year starts on Feb. 8, 2016. People in China have holidays for a week or more to prep themselves for the New Year.
A Fun New Year
The story of old legend is that in acient times, Buddha told all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Only 12 animals came and Buddha then named a year after each one of them. He explained that when people are born on the year that was assigned to them, that person will have some trait of the animal. The people who are born on the year of the monkey are fun, energetic and curious. Some of the Hollywood stars are born on the year of the monkey: Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Chelsea Clinton, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.
Fireworks and Family Gatherings
During Chinese New Year, people wear red clothes, write poems on red paper and give the kids some “lucky money” in red envelopes. For the Chinese people, red signifies fire which according to legend, it drives away bad luck. The fireworks that are being used on festivities also has its own story. Because long ago, residents in China lit some bamboo stalks, believing that the crakling flames would result to fending off the evil spirits.
In China, the New Year is a chance for families to reunite, to spend time and bond together. Family members who are now lives away from their families goes back to China to make their new year extra special. For Chinese people who are in United States and can’t go back to China due to some reasons, there is a community through neighborhood associations instead.
The lantern festival is held on 15th day of the first lunar month. Some of the lanterns that are being used are works of art that are painted with beautiful flowers, zodiac signs, animals that come from the old legends and history. People hang glowing lanterns particularyly in temples, some even carry the lanterns in a parade under the bright light of the full moon.
The highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon is a hundred feet long that is composed of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held up by young men who are covered under the dragon. They move coordinately to make the dragon look like it is dancing and moving its way to the streets.