Xin Nan (Nancy) Lin, 13, lives in New York City. She is originally from Fuzhou, China, and she wrote this essay in Chinese and English. If your first language is something other than English, practice it and don’t forget it. You’ll be glad you did!
Although in the United States New Year’s Day is on January 1st, Chinese New Year’s is not! In China, this year we celebrate the New Year on February 14, the first day of the lunar year—a calendar based on the phases of the moon. Today, we use the lunar calendar mainly for traditions and celebrations. With these traditions, the Chinese lunar zodiac calendar plays a big role. Twelve animals are assigned to each year and the animals, supposedly, characterize the people that are born in that year. 2010 will be the year of the tiger. They are characterized as strong and short tempered.
In China, for one week every year, I got to have red blankets. Why red? Red is the color that brings people luck for the New Year. Everybody on New Year’s wears new clothes because we want to ward off bad luck and begin with a fresh start. Red envelopes are for luck as well. I really just wanted the money that was inside! The night before New Year’s Day, I always stayed up wondering how much I was going to get.
We always ate dinner together and watched the New Year special show. The food! There were dumplings and Peking duck. There were also candy melons, coconut, kumquat, longan, lotus seeds, lychee nut, peanuts and red melon seeds. All these different kinds of foods symbolize growth, good health, unity, prosperity, fertility, joy, happiness and close family relationships.