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Words of the Day: Xin Nian (New Year)

Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2011 By Ni Hao Books

The Words of the Day for today is 新年,xīn nián (New Year). 新 means new, and 年 means year. Chinese New Year will be on Feb. 3rd this year. It will be the year of the Rabbit. If you are in the San Diego area during the weekend of Feb. 12th and 13th, the San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Culture Fair will be in Downtown San Diego on 3rd Ave.

Chinese New Year is also called 春节, chūn jié, (Spring Festival) and 过年,guò nián. The word 过年 came from the legend of 年, a monster who came up from the ocean once a year to destroy everything. Once 年 passed (过), then people could celebrate. According to the Legends of Ten Chinese Traditional Festivals, 年 was afraid of loud noises and red color things, hence firecrackers and red banners are a great part of Chinese New Year celebration to this day.

My favorite parts of the celebration are the big feast (mostly dumplings for us northern Chinese) the night before, the firecrackers, and the red envelops with money. As a child, I was allowed to stay up to watch the 4-5 hour long variety show the whole country watches, till midnight came and the firecrackers went off. The next day, new year's day, I wore brand new clothes, and we would go to friends' houses to visit (拜年,bài nián). It was during those visits that my parent's friends would give me red envelops with money. Because we were never given allowances, so these money was a big deal. I would collect the money to buy toys, candies, snacks. I hope my kids will one day celebrate the new year in China, so they can fully experience the great fun.

I hope you will be able to find some fun activities in the cities, towns you are living at. Happy Chinese New Year!

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