Celebrating Chinese New Year

spring festival-dragon year

Yiwen Chen

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Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is just around the corner (Jan.23), and it always reminds me of the childhood I spent with my grandparents in Wenzhou, China. I still vividly remember those experiences. Weeks before New Year, Grandma would start cleaning the house. Grandpa would get the red lanterns out from the attic and hang them in front of our house. He would put red paper cuttings of the word 福fu (meaning blessing or good fortune) upside down on our doors, signaling that it will come in our house.  Most importantly, school would be out for over a month (that was the best part!). I remember going to school from 7:45 to 5 or 6 PM from Monday to Friday, with extra study sessions on Saturdays. My teacher said that we couldn’t watch TV at home (I did anyways), and made us copy pages of Chinese characters every day.

During break, close and distant family members would come over to our house and grandma would cook enormous amounts of food. The next day, we would go over to their houses and continue the festivities until we have visited everyone’s house.  Fish, complete with its head and bone, would be served at every dinner (my cousin always ate the eyes). It’s a good luck symbol that would bring in good fortunes in the coming years. On New Year’s Eve, I would help grandpa gather wood to create a big fire in front of our house. It’s a tradition that was intended to scare away “nian”, or the year monster, and burn away the bad fortunes from the past. The part I liked the best is getting money from my family members. It’s a tradition for the elder people to give money to the younger generation. The money would be put in small red envelopes. There are many opinions to why this “tradition” became a tradition, but I think the main objective of this is to show the younger generation love and blessing. 

It’s always exciting and fun to celebrate the Spring Festival with my family. Despite the fact that I can’t spend New Year’s with my grandparents anymore (they are in China), I am getting the opportunity to spend it with my parents here in the United States. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Visit the College of Arts & Sciences Year of China website - http://china.as.uky.edu/

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