Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year begins on the first New Moon of the year.

Today, February 3, is that day!

Each new year is said to be ruled by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. 2011 is the year of the rabbit, which is seen as a year of luck!

The Chinese New Year festival lasts until the first Full Moon of the year, which is 15 days later. This is an exciting celebration, traditionally marked by fireworks at midnight, which are believed to scare away the past year's old and evil spirits.

The way you spend the first day of the year is said to set the tone for the whole year. People are often careful not to argue or yell or cry... otherwise they might be arguing and yelling and crying for the whole year! So make sure it's a good day!

Celebrate the year of the rabbit traditionally today, by feasting on sticky sweet cakes called niango (to the left). "Nian" means "year." While these cakes are eaten, the Chinese people also burn a picture of the Kitchen God, with the belief that they are sending him up to heaven. This ritual is done in the hopes of "sweetening" the year to come.

There are all kinds of other traditions performed at this time each year. If you're interested in reading about them, here are a few books to get you started:

Chinese New Year by Carrie Gleason (I got most of my information for this blog post from this book).

Chinese New Year by Kate Marsico

Celebrate Chinese New Year by Elaine A. Kule

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Copyright 2009 Laura Druda