Chinese New Year marks the Year of the Ox


Brian Linus Ngatunga, Reporter

In most parts of the world, New Year is marked at 12:00 AM, midnight on Jan. 1. Some see the new year early, even 12 hours earlier from other places, and some last depending on the specific time zone of a country. 

In some way, you might have heard or been told about the Chinese New Year. What is so special about these celebrations? What is different or similar compared to the regular New Year? 

Chinese New Year, Spring, Festival, or Lunar Year is the celebration that marks the beginning of a new year on a traditional lunisolar calendar. The celebrations last up to 16 days, but only the first seven days are considered public holidays. 2021’s Chinese New Year celebrations which started on Feb. 12 (regular calendar) mark the Year of the Ox from 2020’s Year of the Rat. Wise men say that good information about Chinese New Year can be found from the locals and not the internet itself. Jiashu Hou, a senior from China attending KHS virtually, shared more about the New Year and his experiences in these celebrations.


Why is the Chinese New Year celebrated in February?

Hou: Actually, it is not necessarily in February. In China, we have two kinds of calendar systems, the one we use every day is like the one that America uses. But the other one is quite different. The reason we call it the Chinese New Year is that it is the first day of a year on our other calendar. I think February is just a happy coincidence.


To your point of knowledge, have the Chinese New Year celebrations been traditional practices since ancient times?

Hou: It has a long history. I think it could be even more than thousands of years.


Is the Chinese New Year celebrated by the Chinese only or with other Asians too? In which city do people assemble? 

Hou: I am not sure, but based on the reaction I saw after I was in America, I would say almost all Asians.


What activities do you participate in the New Years’ celebration with friends and family? What do you eat? 

Hou: We do all kinds of fun stuff. For example, fireworks. The reason for this is that there was an old legend about how a bad monster was kidnapping kids during the Chinese New Year. This monster was afraid of the sound of fireworks and so people do fireworks to produce the sound to scare the monster away. But with time going by, today’s fireworks have a high diversity and mainly for people to watch due to the colorful and spectacular images they display in the sky.

Secondly, older people would give younger people money, which we call “ya sui qian.” “Ya” means hold, “sui” is the name of the monster, “qian” is just money, so the meaning of that is to give kids money to protect them from the monster. The most important thing for these celebrations is for the families to gather and get together. Hopefully, all families.


In other parts of the world, Happy New Year is celebrated after last year’s Christmas. Does China celebrate Christmas?

Hou: We used to celebrate, and some of us still want to, but due to the tension between the United States and China, the government doesn’t recommend it.


How are things changing for this year’s celebrations because of COVID-19?

Hou: Few people go home and everything else is the same.


For a foreigner wanting to come and experience the Chinese new year, what do you suggest they bring as a sign of appreciation and wear?  How is the weather at these times?

Hou:  It depends on which part of China you wanna go to, my city is pretty cold since it is in the north. Traditionally, we wear new red clothes, but now we just care about whether it is new. It doesn’t have to be red. And you can also bring a couplet which is for people to stick it on the door to get lucky.