Origin of Chinese New Year

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The red envelope is symbolic of good luck for the coming Chinese New Year.

Kaylyn Phung, Staff Writer, Advertising, Photographer

With a far-reaching history of more than 3800 years, Chinese New Year is a holiday tied to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This is an ideal occasion for family gatherings, honoring deities, and remembering ancestors. 

The origin of this celebration has a long history that dates back to the 17th century when these worshiping activities occurred in the agrarian society of China. During the Shang Dynasty, ancient people made their own calendar according to their planting experiences. At the end of each year, they held sacrifice ceremonies to pray for blessings with clothes, food, and harvest being attributed to the ancestors and gods’ will. These were the first practices for this yearly celebration. Later on, the date was fixed to the first day of the first month of the Chinese Lunar calendar by the emperor of the Han dynasty. At this time, the event became nationwide. Thousands of celebration activities arose such as carnivals launched by the government, burning of bamboo which is similar to modern-day fireworks, and giving gifts for good luck.

Until 1912, the Chinese government decided to adopt the Georgian calendar and abolished the Chinese Lunar calendar to unite their calendar with other countries. This movement wasn’t successful since people refused to stop celebrating traditional holidays. The government then made an agreement with the citizens that both calendars were maintained: one for government, schools, organizations, and one for traditional festivals. Additionally, people got days off from school during the holiday. The tradition later spread throughout Asia and blended with other cultures. Nowadays, many Asian countries celebrate Chinese New Year, and each year is given with a Chinese horoscope animal. 

2021 Chinese New Year is a Metal Ox year that happens every 12 years. The holiday starts on February 12th and lasts for 16 days. LMP’s Chinese classes hosted a lantern decorating contest, created a virtual assembly, and passed out red envelopes containing treats to all students to celebrate the holiday.