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.

福

This symbol, called “Fu,” is the symbol of happiness in China. On New Year’s Day, people put it on their doors. Image courtesy baidu.com.

中国式新年

尽管美国的元旦日是在一月一日,中国可不是这样!在中国,我们在新年的二月十四日庆祝,也就是阴历的第一天——阴历是一种以月亮的阴晴圆缺所制定的日历。如今,我们主要使用阳历来庆祝节日。按照传统,中国的属相同样也是一个重要的角色。十二生肖所对应的动物属相,象征着那年出生的人的性格。2010年将会是虎年,属虎的人很强壮而且是个急性子。

在中国,每年的一个礼拜我的床单会是红色的。为什么是红色的呢?因为红色是新年的幸运色。每个人在新年都要穿新衣服,因为我们想要摆脱去年的坏运气,并拥有一个全新的开始。红包也是带来运气的,但我只是想要里面装的钱罢了。 在前一天晚上,我总是会猜想我会得到多少钱。

我们总是一起吃饭并一起看春晚。那些食物!

我们会吃饺子,烤鸭.还有糖果,甜瓜,椰子,金橘,龙眼,莲子,荔枝,花生,红瓜子. 所有的这些食物象征这增长,身体健康,团结,繁荣,子孙满堂,开心,幸福和亲切的家庭关系.

Click here to read Xin Nan’s full essay in English and Chinese.