Happy new year! Even though it's a little late, it's still February, which means that my family and all my Asian-American friends are getting ready to celebrate Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival with all their families. It's my favorite holiday, and I think it's seriously underrated; hopefully, I can spread the joy of Chinese New Year and convince you to agree!

Piper Spooner

Chinese New Year occurs every year, usually between the end of January and the beginning of February. The date varies because Chinese New Year, like many other traditional Chinese holidays (like the Autumn Moon Festival) is based on the traditional lunar calendar, which shifts every year in accordance with the phases of the moon as opposed to the standardized Gregorian calendar. This year, the new year begins February 5, 2019, which will kick off a two-week period of celebration. In China, most businesses are closed and kids get out of school so they can spend this time with their families. Who wouldn't want a two-week break of nonstop eating and spending time with loved ones?

The holiday celebrates life and new beginnings because, according to legend, there used to be a horrible monster called Nian who would awaken on the first day of every year and devour everyone's crops, livestock, and even children. One year, a wise old man gave everyone the secret to defeating Nian: through loud noise, the color red, strange creatures, and light. After reuniting with their families to share what they believed was their last meal, they did everything the old man said, and defeated Nian. This is why red is the color of good luck and of the new year; why people set off firecrackers; why there are lion dances in the streets; and why everyone hangs lanterns all over the house. Now, whether or not this legend is true, Chinese New Year centers on gathering together and giving thanks for another year of life. For me, it is a time when I miss my family the most because it wouldn't truly be Chinese New Year without them.

On a less serious note, Chinese New Year is also all about food! Much of Chinese culture centers on eating together, but this holiday takes the cake. People spend days in the kitchen together making traditional dishes such as steamed fish, long-life noodles,  rice cakes, glazed vegetables, fruit, and lots of dumplings. All these foods symbolize good fortune in some way, whether they stand for long life, good health, or prosperity. After eating a Chinese New Year feast, I always fall into a deep food coma of happiness, and find that returning to real life can be a bit difficult. 

Louisa Kuper

Other traditions include cleaning the house and getting all new sheets and clothes; these acts symbolize new beginnings and fresh starts. But beware, you can't clean once the new year starts, or else you'll sweep away all your good luck! Adults also give kids lucky red envelopes: in China, these envelopes contain money, but I've only ever received chocolate coins. Also, each year symbolizes a different animal based on the Chinese zodiac, and this year is the Year of the Pig, so everyone born in past years of the pig will have extra good luck this year; be sure to look out for when it will be your year!

I love Chinese New Year because of its history—I mean, who doesn't like a good story, right—its generous and lively spirit, and of course, its food. I love dressing up in red, and I love sharing a big, delicious meal with the people I love most. Even if I don't celebrate with my family, I go out with friends, and this sense of fellowship sets the tone for the rest of the year.

As the Year of the Pig approaches, I encourage you to celebrate with your friends and family: enjoy each other's company, eat some delicious Chinese food, and usher a year full of prosperity! And without further ado,


Xinnian kuai le, wo zhu ni xingfu!

Happy new year, I wish you good fortune!