The Chinese New Year, also
known as the Spring Festival, is based on lunar calendar and does not
fall on the same date each year. It takes place sometime between January
and February, basically on the second new moon after the winter solstice.
Chinese calendar has a twelve year cycle and each year is represented
by its own animal.
The traditional Chinese New Year festivities take place over a two-week
period. They begin with “sweeping of the grounds”. This is
a special housecleaning ritual meant to sweep out the old and evil and
invite the spring. After the sweeping, families bid farewell to the Kitchen
God, who has to take a journey to heaven to give a report on families’
behavior throughout the year. The Kitchen God, who presides over the household,
returns on New Year’s Day.
New Year’s Eve is marked with a big family get-together and a feast
featuring symbolic dishes, a lot of it is seafood. A whole fish is a must
on each holiday table, as it represents abundance. Other dishes frequently
present on the holiday table are shrimp, which represent happiness; oysters,
which represent good business; and clams, symbolizing the opening of new
Red and gold are the colors of the Chinese New Year, where red stands
for happiness and gold for wealth. These colors also dominate the Parade.
The flamboyant Chinese New Year’s Day Parade in NYC is
the largest of its kind on the east coast. The procession cascades down
the streets of NYC's renowned Chinatown, including Mott
Street, the Bowery, East Broadway, Bayard Street, Elizabeth Street and
Pell Street, and spilling over into virtually every side street on its
way. Dozens of lion, dragon and unicorn dance troupes, magicians, acrobats,
Asian musicians and local organizations light up the streets and create
a magical spectacle. The festivities also feature beautifully adorned
floats. The area is spangled with restaurants serving special holiday
dishes with names like “good luck” and “fortune”.
After the Parade, outdoors cultural festival takes place in Bayard Street
with more performances by musicians, dancers and martial artists.