Time to say ‘Happy New Year!’ again – Chinese style

MarksMartellDesign@gmail.comFebruary 8, 2013 

  • The following traditions are observed for the Chinese New Year: •  Give the house a deep clean. Sweep out any negativity remaining from the previous year and get ready for a fresh start. Just remember not to sweep or dust on New Year’s Day—you will sweep your good luck away. •  Feast with the family. The spring festival marks the busiest travel season in the Chinese world as families travel to be together for the holiday season. Reunion dinners held on the eve of the New Year feature traditional foods and end in elaborate fireworks displays to welcome the New Year. Instructor Lea Wu describes family and friends gathering on the eve of the New Year to make dumplings –lots of them – and staying up until midnight eating them. “Then everybody goes to see each other to say ‘Happy New Year,’” she says. •  Brighten up your wardrobe. “The color is called Chinese red. Red is everywhere and people try to dress in red. It means good luck,” JJ explains. •  Get the kids involved. On New Year’s Day, children wake up to greet parents and grandparents with good wishes. They are rewarded with “hong bao,” small red envelopes with money tucked inside. “My mom had a rule that as long as I didn’t have a job, I still got the red envelope,” Bin says. “As soon as you get a job, you’re at the age where your cousins have kids…you have to start giving out.”

— Chinese New Year celebrations are in full swing in Fort Mill and the surrounding areas.

Bin and JJ Chen, owners of Simply Mandarin Academy on Hwy. 160, gathered their students, families and friends Thursday night to celebrate the holiday and welcome spring in traditional Chinese style.

“February 10th this year is the Chinese New Year for the Year of the Snake,” Bin says.

“That’s the lunar year. We’re just celebrating with students and families. Most people here today are in the kids’ group. They’re doing some singing, Chinese New Year songs. Nathan is going to introduce himself in Chinese. It’s sort of like Thanksgiving. Everybody gets together to have a meal. You know, it’s a big deal.”

Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the first month of the lunar year. It marks the beginning of the Spring Festival, the most important holiday season in Chinese culture, which lasts for fifteen days and ends with the Lantern Festival.

Most people in the Western world are familiar with the Gregorian calendar, in which New Year’s Day falls on Jan. 1 each year. The Chinese calendar is based on lunar cycles, and each year corresponds to one of twelve legendary animals.

Guests at Simply Mandarin feasted on sesame chicken, lo mien, fried rice, spring rolls, fruit and the ever-popular Chinese donuts. Students danced, played instruments, and showed off language skills they developed over the year.

Simply Mandarin has a lot to celebrate. After their first year in business, JJ and Bin have been able to hire a second teacher, Lea Wu, and have added additional classes to their schedule, and they have big plans for the Year of the Snake: an expanded after school program, translation services, summer camp, and specialized adult classes for business people and travelers.

To learn more, go to  simplymandarinacademy.com or call 704-705-1625.

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