Lunar New Year: a guide to the year of the tiger

Lunar New Year: a guide to the year of the tiger

Mindy Hueng, Staff Writer

New Years around the world is celebrated in many ways, whether it is with fireworks, barbecues or parties. However, in Lunar calendar based countries it is different, this year it is celebrated on Feb. 1. More than 20 percent of the world celebrates it and as a Taiwanese-American, I have celebrated Chinese New Year every year.
There are many stories and myths about the origin of Chinese New Year. One story is about the ferocious nian monster. This story provides the origin of wearing red on Chinese New Year, putting Chinese calligraphy on red paper and hanging them on doors, along with setting off firecrackers during the New Year. This is also why we call New Years in Chinese “guo nian (過年)” meaning getting over Nian.
Each Chinese New Year changes the symbolic animal. There is the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The year you are born is believed to be the year where you would have the worst luck. The year of 2022 is to be the year of the tiger.
There are many different traditions for Chinese New Year as it lasts many days. Each day through the event of Chinese New Year has its significant meaning and activities.
The first day starts on December 23rd, which is Little Year. This is the day where Chinese families would clean and sweep. The reasoning behind this is the belief you are sweeping your previous year’s bad luck out of your house.
New Year’s Eve is the day where every child is sparkling with joy by receiving red envelopes that contain gifts of money. New Year’s Day also has the most important meal of the year.

The envelopes that are gifted for Lunar New Year

The food that is eaten is chosen for specific reasons. One of the most common is fish, this is because the phrase in Chinese, nian nian you yu (年年有餘), ‘Yu’ can mean multiple things in Chinese based on the character, but it can also mean fish. Thus the phrase represents hoping you have more than you need through the year.
After the delicious meal, the family would stay up late and wait for the New Year. New Year’s day on January 1, also known as the Spring Festival, is the time when firecrackers are set off and people offer greetings to their friends, family and neighbors.
Some of these greetings involve xin nian kuai le(新年快樂) which means happy New Year, gong xi fa cai(恭喜發財)which translates to ‘blessing for wealth and prosperity’ and many more. The traditions through Chinese New Year remain similar to the traditional values, as it is thought of a new start, and hoping for a lucky year.
In Portage, there is a large performance on the Saturday of the week of the new year. I performed the Chinese yoyo, dragon dance and lion dance for these performances. These activities are all well known traditions in the community.

This year’s lion dance performance

The Chinese yoyo (扯鈴) is a traditional toy that can do various tricks to entertain the community and yourself. The dragon dance is believed to bring good luck to people. The lion dance symbolizes the power, wisdom and superiority that the lion brings.
Our Chinese community tries our best to recreate a good atmosphere to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We are still missing many things, such as our family that are in other countries that can’t travel due to school, work or even a pandemic. The most important thing about Chinese New Year is the time we spend with our family.