Monday, January 23, 2017

Chinese New Year - January 28th

The biggest holiday of the year for Chinese families will soon be upon us: Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) is happening this Saturday January 28th (New Year's Eve is the 27th). To compare the significance of this holiday for the American context, it would be like combining Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's all in one. Click here to learn more about Chinese New Year. (That link takes you to an online article from Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, via the Credo Reference database subscribed to by the Dick Smith Library. If you're off-campus you'll need to enter your NTNET username and password to access it.)   

There are many different foods that are typically eaten on this occasion, and they are often symbolic of  increasing your chances of long life or wealth. One favorite is dumplings (like the ones pictured below), eating them on New Year's is supposed to bring increased wealth.
Dumplings (shui jiao 水餃) - Joshua Wallace, photographer and copyright holder, 2015.
Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar, and therefore doesn't happen on the same day every year on the solar calendar that we use. It fluctuates between mid-January to mid-February. According to the Chinese zodiac the new year will be the year of the chicken, and we are leaving the year of the monkey.  The Chinese zodiac consists of twelve animals, so the same animal reoccurs every twelve years. Click here to learn more about the Chinese zodiac. (That link takes you to an article in an online version of Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, subscribed to by the Dick Smith Library. If you're off-campus you'll need to enter your NTNET username and password to access it.)   

A common part of the Chinese New Year holiday is for the adults of the family to give red envelopes full of money to the children of the family. 
A Red Envelope (hong bao 紅包) - Joshua Wallace, photographer and copyright holder, 2017.
Roughly translated the words on the envelope mean "wish you prosperity, money is coming your way" (gong xi fa cai, gun gun er lai). 
A legend associated with the Chinese New Year is that of the Nian monster (nian shou 年獸). This creature comes out of hiding on New Year's Eve to eat people. Luckily, this monster is afraid of firecrackers and the color red, and that's why you see plenty of both this time of year. Typically, families will stay up late into the night to guard against the nian shou. According to some, this monster can eat a whole village in one bite. (That link takes you to an online article from The Paducah Sun, via EBSCO's Newspaper Source database subscribed to by the Dick Smith Library. If you're off-campus you'll need to enter your NTNET username and password to access it.)   

Some Chinese phrases for New Year's: 

  • Xin nian kuai le (新年快樂) - "Happy New Year"
  • Gong xi fa cai (恭禧發財) - A common expression heard during Chinese New Year, roughly translates to "Wishing you increased prosperity." A comical reply to this phrase is hong bao na lai (紅包拿來) which means "hand over the red envelope." 
If you want to learn Chinese or another language, then you should check out the Mango Languages database. It's available on the library website's A-Z database page. 

The library has several books about Chinese New Year in the Curriculum Collection, which is located on the lower level at our Stephenville location: 

Click here to listen to some Chinese New Year's music. That link takes you to the library's catalog, from there click on the "Online Access Click Here" link. 

Click here to watch a documentary about how modern Beijing families celebrate New Year's. 
(That link takes you to the Films on Demand database subscribed to by the Dick Smith Library. If you're off-campus you'll need to enter your NTNET username and password to access it.)   

International Programs will be hosting a Chinese New Year celebration on Friday January 27th from 6PM - 8PM at the Thompson Student Center. There will be food and activities. Click here for more details. 


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