By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff
The Chinese New Year is a celebration known worldwide. The two-week observance commemorates the transition into a new year according to the lunar calendar. To learn more information about the culture and festivities, the Dover Town Library invited special guest Jenny Xue to share her knowledge and experience.
Dressed in red, a lucky tradition, Xue gave a presentation on the Chinese New Year. Library patrons learned Chinese phrases and traditions. For instance, cleaning the home is a primary preparation for the new year. It is symbolic of “sweeping away the bad luck,” Xue said. Money in a lucky red envelope, known as hóngbāo, is a customary gift. According to tradition, it originated as a way to get children to stay awake through the night and avoid a demon names Suì. Various traditions are still extremely popular today, and children commented on the presentation, stating that there are equivalents in the States. Celebrators of the Chinese New Year also stay up late in anticipation of the new year, spend time with family, and enjoy a feast this time of year.
Xue explained the Chinese Zodiac. There are twelve animals representative of birth years. 2023 is the year of the rabbit. Fourth in the zodiac, the rabbit symbolizes peace and prosperity. The rabbit itself is a symbol of luck in Chinese culture. 2023 is set to be a lucky year and will be introduced by an extravagant Chinese New Year.
As a remembrance of the Chinese New Year, Xue led a tutorial for Chinese paper cutting. Paper cutting dates back centuries as an art form and a way to display decoration. Xue discussed four different cuttings and what they mean. Xi shang mei shao, or a magpie on a plum blossom, is representative of happiness, where nian nian you yu, or a fish and lotus, represents abundance year after year. Folks followed along and proudly showed off their new red lantern to bring home and celebrate the Chinese New Year.