Two University of Lincoln students have given their personal insight into the traditions and meaning of Chinese New Year.
Vicky Zhuge from China is 22 and studies Business & Finance
Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is one of the most important dates in the calendar for many people across the world. It falls on February 8 this year, and 2016 will be the Year of the Monkey.
The New Year represents different things for different people. For me, it symbolises the importance of family to our culture.
It’s an event where the whole family comes together to celebrate. We are expected to arrive at home one day before New Year’s Eve in order to make the necessary preparations for the main event.
Preparations include a thorough cleaning of the house, which all the family are expected to take part in. This is meant to represent the removal of the old to make way for the new. Cleaning the house also means our souls are cleansed, so we enter the new year free from the temptation of evil.
After the cleaning, we decorate the inside and the outside of the house. Lanterns are hung up on the outside, along with red and gold banners (called Chunlian decorations) daubed with messages of good luck and fortune. Around the house we hang firecracker decorations and Dui Lian wall scrolls.
Midnight is, of course, celebrated by setting off fireworks. This is always great fun for all the family. Fireworks also hold traditional significance, as they are thought to be useful in scaring away evil spirits.
In the days following this, we eat traditional food such as dumplings and fish. These represent prosperity and will start our new year on a positive note. This year I plan to celebrate the New Year with my friends in Lincoln.
Jeffery Tan from Malaysia is 22 and also studies Business & Finance
In Malaysia, our New Year traditions are very similar to those in China. One of the best parts about it is receiving red envelopes with money in them.
These are generally given to us by our parents during the 15-day celebration. Red is a very lucky colour in Asian culture; it is thought that the red envelopes will protect those who receive it from evil, and ensure that they live long and healthy lives.
Another way of ensuring good luck and fortune is to cut or shave your hair prior to New Year’s Eve. This is because cutting your hair during the New Year celebrations is forbidden, and is thought to bring you misfortune.
New Year celebrations go on for 15 days. During this time we visit family and friends, or just stay at home. People can generally celebrate how they want to but, like in China, most Malaysians celebrate by spending quality time with their family and giving and receiving gifts.
The last day of the celebration is the Yuan Xiao festival, or the Lantern Festival, which will take place on February 22 this year. This involves lighting and releasing red paper lanterns, decorating our houses with them, or solving riddles written on different lanterns.
I’m very lucky as I get to celebrate three different birthdays every year: one in the English (Gregorian) calendar, one in the Chinese calendar, and another in the Malaysian calendar!
Like Vicky, I’ll also be celebrating the new year in Lincoln with friends. Whatever you’re doing, we both hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous Chinese New Year!