For many children and families around the world, early February marks the most respected and fun tradition of Chinese New Year. Lively dragon dances and the gifts of red packets containing money are only some of the customs.
Chinese New Year originally honored family, heavenly deities, and ancestors. Now, since times have changed significantly, most families celebrate by having a simple gathering. The meaning of Chinese New Year is to renew friendships and family ties, and to forget old grudges.
The date of Chinese New Year changes every year. This year, the Year of the Rabbit, begins February 3. Many predict that it will be a calmer year than 2010. The Year of the Rabbit is associated with home and family, artistic pursuits, diplomacy, and keeping peace.
There are many traditions on the days preceding the holiday and on the Chinese New Year. “Getting together with family, the food, and receiving packets with money inside them are definitely my favorite traditions,” said Deidre Yiu ’11.
Other traditions include watching bright fireworks and visiting neighbors. In addition, some families watch local celebrations on television.
Some of the older traditions include cleaning the whole house to get rid of all the bad luck and misfortune hiding within the walls, painting doors and walls red, and hanging up paper-cuts with words written on them. These words are often on themes of happiness, longevity, and luck.
A handful of families enjoys celebrating Chinese New Year in an old-fashioned yet strict regimen over fifteen days. Some days are devoted to seeing parents, some are strictly to eat vegetarian foods, and others are birthdays of gods that play a continuous role in spiritual life.
In the U.S., many cities also celebrate this holiday. Shanya Hopkins ’14 said, “At my old school in New York City, we used to study Chinese history and every year we would do traditional Chinese dances.”
Many students and teachers would love to present the holiday here. The International Club will hold a party, or make a presentation at school meeting. To add another festive touch, the dining hall will serve delectable Chinese food. In addition, students will sell red packets with chocolate coins inside.
Chinese teacher Cindy Feng anticipates that celebrating Chinese New Year at Deerfield Academy will be beneficial to the students.
“It’s nice for some of the international students to have a taste of home, and it’s good for students that live in the U.S. to develop their global perspective.”