Tuesday March 5th, 2024 9:50AM

UNG Flagship Program Official shares Lunar New Year Traditions

By Lawson Smith Anchor/Reporter
Lunar New Year, a holiday marking the beginning of the Lunar Calendar, begins February 10. 
 
University of North Georgia Chinese Flagship Program Coordinator and Instructor of Chinese Ran Chen said the festival is associated with several traditions that represent bringing success into a new year.
 
Chen said the traditions begin with several preparations for celebration, including people cleaning out their homes to rid them of “bad luck” and decorating spaces with and wearing the color red. She also said the holiday is a time for families to gather. 
 
“The Lunar New Year is about family,” she said, “Family members may travel hundreds of miles to gather for a union dinner on the New Year's Eve… during these family gatherings,  our elders give red packets filled with money to younger relatives, as the symbol of good luck and prosperity.” 
 
Chen explained that while the amount of money may be different for each family, there are certain numbers that represent good luck. 
 
“Amongst containing numbers eight or six are preferred because eight and six are  homophones,” she said. “In Chinese, eight is ‘ba’ and six ‘liù’ – they are homophones for ‘prosperity’, and ‘new’ respectively. But, number four is taboo because in Chinese four is a homophone for ‘death’”.
 
Also referred to as Chinese New Year, the festival lasts for 15 days, with the last day traditionally ending with a lantern festival. Chen noted the celebration is rooted in a thousands years old legend. 
 
“There was a mythical beast called ‘Nian’, which means ‘year’,” she said. “The beast would attack villagers at the beginning of each new year. So, after years of fighting against the beast, villagers learned that the beast was afraid of loud noises, bright lights, and the color red. So, during the New Year celebration, people will set off firecrackers.” 
 
Each  new year also has an animal associated with it, which is determined by a 12 year cycle according to the Chinese Zodiac. 2024 marks the year of the dragon. 
 
“In the past, the dragon used to be a symbol for the Emperor, so the commoners could not  use Dragon symbols,” Chen said. “Definitely nowadays, people can enjoy the dragon symbol on their clothes, or in their decorations– there's the meaning of power in it.” 
 
Chen also noted that  each year, UNG hosts a variety of events to celebrate Lunar New Year. The school’s Chinese and Flagship program collaborated friday to bring activities to it’s Dahlonega Campus, which included Chinese calligraphy, a Lunar New Year themed photobooth, and more. 
 
Lunar New Year will end on February 24.
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