Experience Chinese New Year!

We are happy to announce our new weekly additions of culturally focused blog posts that explore traditions, history, and festivals held around the world. Part of promoting inter-cultural exchange is not only sharing your own culture with an exchange student, but learning about theirs as well. This week we’ll be taking a look at…Chinese New Year!

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Chinese culture and traditions stretch back thousands of years, fostering and promoting some very interesting festivals such as the much anticipated Chinese New Year. February 8th marks the beginning of Chinese New year festivities, ushering in the year of the monkey for Chinese diaspora across the world!

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The New Year festival is centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, and the Philippines. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors. [1]

According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would eat villagers, especially children! To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One day, a villager decided to get revenge on the Nian. A god visited him and told him to put red paper on his house and to place firecrackers. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian! [2]

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Want an opportunity to celebrate Chinese New Year and learn about the cultural traditions behind it? Apply to be a Host Family today with Student Ambassador Exchange, and broaden your cultural horizons!

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