Chinese New Year

Aaron Kim--The year of the rabbit was celebrated with a festival in downtown Riverside.

Happy New Year! Wait, but isn’t it February? Here in the United States, we celebrated New Years a month ago but this month, Feb. 3 is Chinese New Year.

Each year the date of the Chinese New Year changes according to the lunisolar Chinese calendar. Along with the changing of the date, one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals is also changed. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2011 is the year of the Rabbit.

Chinese New Year or Chinese Lunar New Year, as it is also referred to, is one of the most important traditional Chinese holidays.

The Chinese people take a lot of time off so loved ones near and far can celebrate with one another. Celebrations can last up to 15 days. The celebration consists of eating specific Chinese foods, setting off fireworks, getting new clothing and the receiving of red envelopes or red bags of money.

Families have huge feasts usually containing 20 or more dishes. These dishes may include dumplings, spring rolls, fish, chicken, bamboo shoots, rice cakes and other ethnic foods. Dishes can have a symbolic meaning, for instance having a whole fish represents togetherness and abundance.

“We have a feast and watch a TV show called ‘Spring Celebration.’ In China, it is kind of a tradition to watch that show together,” Leyi Ling, sophomore and music education major said.

On the Eve of Chinese New Year fireworks are set off throughout the cities in celebration of the new year.

“Usually we do not sleep and you actually cannot because the noises that the fireworks make will fill up the whole city,” Ling said.

In ancient times, the Chinese believed the small explosions from fireworks could ward off evil spirits.

New clothes are worn to signify the entrance of a new year. The clothes are red or other bright colors; red symbolizes good luck or happiness.

Red envelopes or bags are given to the younger members of the family by their elder relatives. The amount of money depends on the givers’ relationship to the receiver as well as the receiver’s age.

International Chinese students were able to celebrate Chinese New Year away from home as well.

“I celebrated with my friends in Chinese Bible study fellowship. We made dumplings, ate some delicious food and played some games,” Ling said.

Jan. 28 ” 29, thousands came to celebrate in downtown Riverside’s first Asian Pacific Lunar New Year Festival.

Friday, Jan. 28 kicked off the Lunar Fest with Dinner and Fashion Night as well as entertainment by local artists and a silent auction.

From the morning of Saturday, Jan. 29 into the early evening events consisted of a Parade, Asian Market/ Food Expo, various performances of songs & dances, music and martial arts and various educational projects like Art & Cultural Museum displays, tea ceremonies, a film festival, Children’s Village and Technology.

On Saturday evening at 6 p.m. there was a traditional firework show.