Instructor Explains Significance of Chinese New Year


Similar to the US holiday Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year brings families together to eat and celebrate. However, unlike Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year has traditions that are quite different: house cleaning, clothes shopping, paper cuttings, festive dances, gifts, and firecrackers popping. 


North Little Rock High Chinese teacher Lydia Lu explains the significance behind Chinese New year. “Chinese New Year is a time to share happiness and love. The Chinese New Year a lot of time is about family being together,” stated Lu.


 Although Chinese New Year is celebrated in China, other countries celebrate Chinese New Year such as Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and states in America like California and New York. In the US, people participate in the Chinese New Year traditions by cutting intricate designs on tissue paper and dressing in ornate animal-inspired costumes for dancing. According to Lu, the Lion Dance is when,  “People have a costume that looks like a lion and the people inside it perform a traditional dance.”


Additionally, China has an important tradition of cleaning your house before Chinese New Year Day. This tradition signifies starting over anew and includes buying new clothes and at times getting new haircuts. People also put lucky phase couplets on the sides of their doors and on the top of the door. Couplets are two complementary poetic lines that portray messages that express happiness and hopeful thoughts for the coming year. Later in the afternoon, they eat food that has a deep meaning. For example, people eat shrimp which signifies good luck. Moreover, when eating noodles, they don’t cut or bite it. They eat the noodles as a whole to represent having a long life. Lu also says that she tells her students not to bite or cut their noodles for the same reason. 


She also tells her students to share what they learned starting with school. “My Chinese II went to the middle school and taught them what Chinese New Year is,” says Lu. Her Chinese I students on the other hand teach the classes here in the high school. Next year, Lu hopes to have a big Lion dance to show students a part of her Chinese culture.