In the video below, Jenifer Chang, Chief of Central Public Services Division at Parkway Central Library, discusses the history and traditions behind Chinese New Year and how the Free Library will be celebrating.
The fifteen-day celebration starts on the new moon and people participate in traditional activities such as:
Sweeping out the old year and welcoming the new
Rejoicing and reuniting with family
Cooking special foods
Distributing and receiving red envelopes for good fortune
Schools and businesses are closed for an extended holiday break so people can visit families and relatives far away.
"Chuan Lian", made up of strips of red papers, are hung on doors and windows to keep out bad spirits and bring in good luck. The Chinese character "Fu" is hung upside down to mean "happiness has arrived." People wear red to scare away the evil. Everyone gets new clothes and haircuts. A special menu is prepared with dumplings, fish, noodles, oranges, and turnip cake. These foods represent prosperity, abundance, long life, great wealth, and rising fortune.
One popular Chinese legend is of the wild beast named "Nian." Nian would attack villages, searching for food. To keep the beast away from their homes, people painted the doors of their houses red. They built fires and set off firecrackers until the beast ran away.
The Chinese also believe you share some traits with the animal that rules the year in which you were born. There are twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.