新年快乐; Happy New Year!

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For most Westerners, New Year’s Day has already passed. It is 2014 after all. This is not so in Asia.

Rather than just celebrating the New Year on the first day of the year of the Western calendar, the Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year) is also celebrated on the first day of the year of the Chinese calendar in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and other countries with significant Chinese populations. Though varying from location to location, some traditions include gathering families together for a dinner, cleansing the house to sweep away ill-fortune and decorating the house with red lanterns and Chinese poetry.

Some traditional customs of the celebration include passing out red envelopes, from couples and elders to young adults and children; They are often filled with money (ranging from a few to hundreds of dollars) or sometimes candy. Though there is a firecracker ban in place in many countries, several have permitted them for the celebration. In the U.S., for example, New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco have allowed firecrackers for specific locations and festivals.
 

 
The dates of the Chinese New Year are predetermined by the Chinese calendar. Therefore, the Chinese New Year falls on different dates in the Western calendar. This year, the celebrations will take place on Jan. 31. With that, the Chinese calendar is dependent on a 12-year cycle, which corresponds to the Chinese zodiac. The year 2013 corresponds to the snake and 2014 will be the year of the horse.

Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, is also celebrated on the same day. Of course, this is not a coincidence, seeing that the Vietnamese New Year also follows the lunisolar calendar. On this Vietnamese holiday, it is traditional to give red envelopes containing money to children and elderly people, open a shop, wish New Year’s greetings, ancestral worshiping and to visit a person’s house on the first day of the new year.

There are actually a few celebrations for the New Year in Arizona! On Feb. 15, ASU will be having a Chinese New Years Celebration; Feb. 7-9, the Phoenix Chinese Week will be taking place; and the Vietnamese Community of Arizona will present the Tết Spring Festival & Miss Vietnam at Dobson High School on Feb. 8.

You can reach Jenny by email at jenny.ung@asu.edu.