On Thurs., Feb. 19, people worldwide celebrated the New Lunar Year. After accepting the Western Calendar in 1912, the Chinese renamed the historic new year celebrations the Spring Festival. The Lunar New Year anniversary dates back to the Shang Dynasty, around the fourteenth century. Each cycle of zodiac symbols lasts twelve years. The cycle starts with rat, followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and ends with pig. 2015 is the year of the sheep, the eighth year in the twelve year cycle. The last year of the sheep was in 2003.
Since the 1860s San Francisco has held one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations in the nation. The Chinese New Year is celebrated with offerings to the gods and ancestors, elaborate parades to kick off the new year, and ancient rituals performed for good luck in the new year just like in ancient times. Many of the rituals include feasting. For example, long noodles are eaten to represent long life.
Several LGHS students celebrate the Lunar New Year. Sophomore Felicia Tang spent the new year in China. Tang moved to China during first grade and moved back to Los Gatos in seventh grade. She and her family traveled to China over the last break to celebrate the important holiday. Tang said, “it’s the most important time of the year,” and added when comparing the celebrations in the United States to those in China, “it’s not that kind of holiday spirit here.” Tang describes the holiday as a time to visit family and finds the festivities and red envelopes the most memorable. She says, “The money in the red envelopes is called ya sui qian, which literally means ‘suppressing age money.’” The money is supposed to protect one from the monster of Age and provide peace for the coming year.
LGHS juniors Joyce Wei and Mikaela Hand have celebrated the Chinese New Year for several years. Like Tang, Wei enjoys the tradition of giving money in traditional red envelopes. She celebrates the new year by feasting with her family. The Weis eat dumplings on the night of the new year. The member of the Wei Family that has an added piece of candy inside in his/her dumpling gets extra money for good fortune. Wei added that most families eat fish because the Chinese word for fish sounds similar to the Chinese word for luck. Junior Mikaela Hand celebrates by spending the day with her close family and her grandparents. Hand said, “my grandma and my grandpa came over and cooked a big feast for us.” Like the others, Hand stated, “they gave us money in the little red envelopes; that was the best.”