Happy Chinese New Year!

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Amy is an international student currently studying at Kingston University in London. Here she describes how Chinese New Year is celebrated in her home country of Taiwan.

The most important holiday in Taiwan is the Lunar New Year. It normally comes around one month after the Western New Year, and there are similarities between Christmas and Chinese New Year. On this special holiday, families get together for the festivities. Whilst visiting relatives and friends, we greet them with New Year sayings, wishing them good luck, good health, great fortune and so on. Adults give children little red envelopes with money inside them instead of gifts.

At New Year's time, most families paste signs on and around the front doors of their homes. These signs consist of black or gold Chinese characters written on squares or strips of red paper, because red is a happy colour which brings good luck. You always see red as the main decorative colour during this holiday.

On Lunar New Year's Eve, we usually have a big meal together with family members. Then we greet our parents with New Year's sayings and get red envelops with money inside. After that, we stay up late until New Year's Day in order to welcome the God of wealth, hoping our new coming year is full of fortune and good luck. You can hear the noise of firecrackers at that moment. It is part of celebration. Life is renewed and the New Year begins.

The New Year Begins

During the following days, you can see people making New Year's visits to friends and family. People in Taiwan will also go to temple to worship god in these days and to pray for a good year. In other words, traffic gets busy during this time.

Normally, we get new clothes and a new haircut before New Year, as we dress in new outfits to wish our friends and relatives a Happy New Year. Moreover, we will play games with dice, a little bit like gambling but not serious- it is just for fun. People wear red whilst playing the games to bring some luck and make them some money.

On the second day of New Year, it is traditional that we pay a visit to my mother's family. After that, on the Fifteenth day of New Year, we have Lantern Festival. You can see pretty lanterns everywhere with every different kind of shape. The streets are full of lights and lanterns, just like Christmas lights in the Western countries. This year is Dragon year so I am sure that we will see many Lanterns in the shape of a dragon. Even little kids will carry a small dragon lantern whilst walking on the streets in Taiwan.

Overall, New Year is a celebration that lasts for more than two weeks. It is always fun and very festive. I hope everyone has a great Chinese New Year.

Chia Yun Hsieh (AMY)

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