Happy New Year!

This year is a time to monkey around. February 8, was the beginning of the Chinese New Year, and 2016 is the year of the monkey.

Although the holiday was celebrated on Monday, February 8, this year, next year it will be celebrated on Saturday, January 28. Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year. It ranges from January 21 to February 20, but it is always celebrated on a new moon.

The holiday is a time to celebrate ancestors. There are many different ways to celebrate. Many families watch parades that include the “Lion Dance,” which is performed by at least two people operating a lion costume. The lion dance is often confused by Americans as the dragon dance which is performed by many people holding a dragon on poles. A popular tradition is giving children a red envelope that holds money. The envelopes are red because red is the lucky color of China. Each family celebrates in a different way. “I got together with friends and family and ate Chinese food,” said sophomore Grace Saunders, “I was with 20 other families. We filled the whole party room [at the restaurant]”

The 12 Chinese Zodiac animals are a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.  According to legend, an emperor told all the animals to race to determine the 12 zodiac animals. The rat arrived in first place, and the pig was in twelfth. Some stories say that the rat got in first place by cheating. Most Riverbend students are oxen, tigers, rabbits, dragons, or snakes depending on their birth year.

Chinese New Year is celebrated mostly in China, but its popularity has spread and is now celebrated worldwide.