If you’re seeing red and have visions of dragons in your head, it’s not a trip from ‘The Sixties’ coming back to haunt you. From Shanghai and Taiwan to Chinatowns across the States, folks are celebrating the Chinese New Year.
We celebrate Chinese New Year in January or February, in accordance with the lunisolar calendar. Each year is represented by one of twelve creatures from the Chinese zodiac. Best wishes for peace, prosperity and longevity are exchanged over celebratory dinners.
Customs are about starting fresh in the year ahead. Homes are cleaned and debts are paid. Colorfully costumed troupes parade through the streets while dancing to the bombastic sounds of drums, cymbals and firecrackers, all in hopes of exorcising evil spirits.
Chinese legend once decreed that the evil spirit, Nian, was repelled by the scarlet hue, so red is the color of choice. Dispel the evil presence and the future is paved for good fortune. Red envelopes containing currency are gifted, red lanterns hover from every direction and red clothing is worn.
The most accepted route to joining in festivities of any holiday is the food, and as evidenced by lengthy lines at restaurants and buffets, the Chinese New Year is no exception. So pass the dumplings, pass the moo shu, and raise your glass in a toast to the Year of the Rat.