9 Things You Need To Know About Chinese New Year
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9 Things You Need To Know About Chinese New Year

The year of the Monkey

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9 Things You Need To Know About Chinese New Year
2016: HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR - SABAN THEATRE

There are 12 zodiac symbols through folktales in which animals helped farmers drive out a monster called Nian. The 12 symbols are in order, and each of them refers to a specific year. The first symbol is a Mouse, followed by the Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Hen, Dog and Pig. The cycle repeats every 12 years. This year is the year of Monkey.

The lunar new year brings traditions that the western new year doesn't. Here are some ways we celebrate the Chinese New Year.

1. Stick Spring Festival Couplets on the doors.

The Chinese couplet is a decoration for the new year, which also produces a festive atmosphere. Couplets are always in even numbers because people believe fortunes come in doubles. Normally, Couplets are written with rhyming sentences that suggest good luck or treasure.

2. Affix the spring festival decor to the windows.

Paper cutting is one of the ways people create decor for windows and is also a folk art in China. People cut red papers into patterns they like or even into Chinese blessing words. Some experts can cut the paper into a picture while conserving a lot of detail. Other than glueing paper cuttings on windows for decoration, people also hang up Chinese knots, or new year paintings, which contain mostly happy scenes or fortunate meanings.

3. Have a New Year's Eve feast with family.

The new year is the time when people reunite with family and sit around a table listening to every family member's experiences through the past year, as well as everyone's wishes for the new year.

4. Stay up all night on new year's eve.

People watch the Chinese Spring Festival Gala after dinner and play a popular game called mahjong, which needs four participants. Everyone enjoys their last few hours of the past year and await the new year coming at 12 o'clock.

5. Set off firecrackers.

To be honest, this has been my favorite new year tradition since I was a child. I would go out into the yard with my father or grandfather and they would set off the larger firecracker, which made a tremendous amount of loud sounds of an explosion over my screaming, and I would play with my safer fireworks. The tradition of setting off firecrackers also came from the folktale about the monster Nian. People were convinced that by making noises they could scare away the monster, and they could enjoy a safer and worry-free year.

6. Eat dumplings after 12.

Normally, a family would prepare enough dumplings for all of the family members to eat. To make it attractive for young children to eat dumplings, parents may put jujubes inside some dumplings. For children who eat the dumplings with jujubes, they may get lucky money from their parents or grandparents.

7. Greet and bless relatives.

In the early morning of the first day of the new year, people pay visits to relatives and friends' houses and bring them the best wishes of the new year. Also, children greet their elders to bless them long live and healthy. This tradition connects people who were not that familiar in the past year and rebuild the relationships.

8. Get lucky money!

Chinese people assume red is a lucky color, and the 100 Chinese yuan, China's highest nominal value currency, is red. Therefore, elders would give children this "lucky money" in red envelopes and wish them luck for the whole year. Until children grow up and enter the adult world, the tradition continues every year.

9. Go to the spring festival temple fairs.

At the fair, people see dragons dancing or local operas and get all kinds of traditional Chinese snacks like sweet rice cake and red bean cake, which used to be my favorite. The fairs might differ from regions, but they all represent the local cultures.

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