The lunar calendar has come full circle, which means it’s time to celebrate another Chinese New Year!
For those who may be unfamiliar with the origins of Chinese New Year compared to that of January first, the difference lies in ancient Chinese beliefs and the way in which time is tracked. Chinese New Year tracks time based upon the lunar calendar (moon phases), rather than the solar calendar (phases of the sun which completes a full year every 365 days).
While both dates carry a similar belief of new beginnings and promise for the year ahead, Chinese New Year encompasses important ancient traditions and festivities that showcase a rich culture celebrated across the world.
The narrative of Nian
Most of the traditional festivities surrounding Chinese New Year are based off the belief of Nian. Nian was an evil being said to have caused havoc on ancient villages at the end of winter, destroying crops and livestock. In order to ward off the beast, people began to hang red lanterns and scrolls in their homes, lighting fireworks and creating loud noises to combat the beast. To commemorate conquering such an evil, every Chinese New Year, people continue to use these tactics and traditions to keep evil away.
Here a few cities that come to life every lunar new year with vivacious red colors, triumphant dancing, and an abundance of food to celebrate the end of winter—and the new beginnings that lie ahead.
San Francisco, California
Attracting millions of people each year, the festival includes a massive 3-hour long parade with lanterns, flags and, of course dragons, which in Chinese culture symbolize good luck. The parade may be a main attraction for the festival, but is certainly not the only one. Many make their way over to the flower market fair. In order to properly start fresh, stop in for fresh flowers, candies, and new supplies for family, friends, and yourself.
New York, New York
Though New Yorkers cannot set off firecrackers themselves, the city makes sure to have a formal firecracker ceremony for Chinese New Year celebrations each year, and they never seem to disappoint. Following the firecracker ceremony is the parade that weaves its way through Chinatown and Little Italy. The best part about New York, is no matter where you are on Chinese New Year, you can find celebrations occurring in other areas like Queens, Sunset Park, and Brooklyn.
Gongs, drums, and traditional dragon dances flood the streets of Boston each Chinese New Year. Dragon dances will be performed throughout the parade to ward off any evil spirits. You can spot all of the dancers dressed in bright red, as it is believed to keep evil away.
The Symphony Center in Chicago will be hosting a concert featuring the Hubei Chime Bells National Chinese Orchestra and the China National Beijing Opera Company this year which will include traditional Chinese instruments and costumes in celebration of the New Year. Chicago’s shopping centers will be flooded with vendors and deals to kick start the New Year.
Immerse yourself in food, tradition, and culture this Chinese New Year wherever you may be!