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Celebrating the Chinese New Year

Feb 19, 2015

2015 Chinese New Year - Year of the Goat
Credit Epic Fireworks / Flickr

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year. There are celebrations happening worldwide, and here in Michigan to welcome the lunar New Year and bid farewell to the old.

The Chinese New Year is based off the lunar calendar.

It's also the start of the spring season, which is why the celebration is also called the Spring Festival. 

“Even though it’s cold, you can sense the coming of spring,” said Liangyu Fu, a Chinese studies librarian at the University of Michigan.

Fu prepares a big New Year’s Eve dinner for family and friends in Ann Arbor. Chinese dumplings, rice cakes, and fish are all on the menu at Fu’s house. The fish is set on the dinner table as a symbol of good fortune, but you don’t have to eat it, she said.

Fu decorates her home with paper lanterns and red Chinese winter flowers.

Then, there’s the Nian.

It's a mythical beast that come out of hiding around spring time to attack people. She explained why firecrackers and the color red are used in the New Year celebration.

"So people will fire the firecracker, and then especially because Nain is afraid of the red color, people will use red color in their house," she said. "They will dress red and do many things that include the red color in order to scare off this Nian, this beast."

This Chinese New Year is the year of the goat, or the sheep, or the ram. For more on that, check out this blog from NPR's CodeSwitch team.