To develop our understanding of the Chinese New Year festivities we asked our Mandarin teachers Min Gu (MG), Laura Zhu (LZ) and language assistant BingBing Liu (BL) about their celebrations.
How does the Chinese New Year differ from our New Year?
Firstly, it’s the time difference: Chinese New Year always starts at the end of January or the beginning of February, and secondly we celebrate for 3 weeks! Chinese New Year is the most important festival in China; it’s a family reunion time where we have a lot of traditional customs. (BL)
We know it is the Year of the Rooster, why is this important?
People who are born in the Year of the Rooster are very courageous, brave and wise. They have the strength of persistence and often exhibit strong personal power, usually knowing exactly what they want. (MG)
According to the Chinese zodiac, Roosters are meticulous and organised, faithful to friends, and sometimes blunt. They also have a keen eye for detail; my mother’s animal is rooster. (BL)
What are you hoping for from the Year of the Rooster?
As this is my year, I am hoping for some extra luck. (MG)
To me, as lots of my family are Roosters, this year must full of hope. (LZ)
Well, hope I keep happy and enjoy my job. (BL)
How does your family celebrate?
On Chinese New Year’s Eve, all the family members return home for a family reunion dinner, no matter where they are and how far away they are from home. It is not an ordinary meal as every dish has its special meaning. For example, in my hometown NanJing, we must eat fish that day, because in Chinese, fish is pronounced as YU which sounds like “surplus”, which is a good wish for the coming year, meaning that the family will make more than enough money. (MG)
Every year my parents and I would normally break up early from work or school to prepare for the New Year celebrations. We have three phases of the celebration, the first one being shopping, the second, a food feast and family reunion, and thirdly a lantern festival which also means the end of celebration. We would normally spend two weeks buying snacks, gifts, Chinese posters and accessories before the spring festival. On the last two days we would sit at home and enjoy the scent from the food we have prepared. The first week of the spring festival is always bursting with food and joy as we have new clothes and the chance to catch up with relatives who we don’t often see. As the lantern festival approaches, the atmosphere of the New Year fades. (LZ)
My mother always buys a lot of food, we decorate our house, make dumplings, and eat a New Year dinner together. I always get a red envelope with money inside. (BL)
What are your favourite parts of the celebrations?
In the northern part of China, they have a tradition that everyone has to eat dumplings on New Year’s Eve. The interesting part is, when they make dumplings, they mix some coins into the fillings, and the one who gets the specially made dumpling will have good luck throughout the whole year. I know it sounds a little superstitious, but it’s a time-honoured tradition. I think this tradition is not only fascinating but also enables people to express their good wishes for the new year. (MG)
Eating traditional Chinese food with my family together. (BL)
My favourite part is the family reunion. This is the most important thing to me, as all of my family will get together. (LZ)