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The biggest celebration on Earth

BY VICTORIA SANSUR

It is a  celebration that never stops. Big cities are filled with colorful parades,  food, drinks, fireworks, lights, music and dances that brings joy to people. Imagine all this for more than a week. Believe it or not, this is how the Chinese celebrate their New Year.

Also known as the “Spring Festival,” the 4715 year that corresponds to the rooster began on Jan. 28. According to Chinese mythology, those born in the rooster’s year are talented, hardworking, brave and creative people. Per Chinese calendar, this year will be a year to seek prosperity and justice.

Mathematics instructor Antony Cheng was born and raised in Taiwan. He explained that the lunisolar Chinese calendar determines the date of Chinese New Year. Each stage represents different animals, whose meanings and importance vary from each other.

“The 12 animals have their own meaning and characteristic. If you talk about the tiger, which I am, it means strong and mighty,” said Cheng. “There are always some preferences, people always set up when they have a kid to be born in a year of dragon.”

To Chinese, the dragon signifies wisdom, power and wealth. One of the most important and popular parades is the dance of the lion and dragon, characterized by the red and gold. In Chinese communities around the world, the red and gold colors represent the signature of China’s first empire, which keep the celebrations alive and bring brightness to the streets.

“The red means joy and celebration, so it has always been very popular for other celebrations in China,” Cheng said. “The gold is more royal and kingship so people like to mix those colors while they celebrate.”

Traditionally, children would be given red envelopes stuffed with “lucky money” and positive wishes. Assistant Professor of Communication Harrison Gong, from the Communication department, lived most of his childhood in Shanghai. To him, this practice represents “the beauty of the holiday.” As a child, Gong remembers how the youngest family members received money instead of toys in his native country.

“You are supposed to put the money underneath your pillow for a day or two, then you can go and expend the money as you want,” Gong said. “So instead of kids saying that they want something from Santa, they always get the red pocket from somebody older than them. You cannot give a red pocket to somebody who is older, that is really offensive.”

Throughout all the days, there are several traditions that Chinese follow for this festivity. Nevertheless, celebration of the New Year cannot end without the Lantern Festival, where children use lanterns to illuminate the darkness of the night.

Mengyuan Zheng, a graduate student studying accounting and a native of China, said that this festival always brings brightness to any city celebrating in China. This year, the festival will fall on Feb.11.

“There are a lot of fireworks as well, in many places we have these light shows, where there are a lot of lights in shape of flowers, dragons and pretty figures,” Zheng said. “My best memories are always going to be those lanterns, as a kid it was so beautiful to see how they fly in the sky.

Veronica Sansur can be reached at mvsansurzapata@spartans.ut.edu

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