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Chinese New Year: 2014

The Year of the Horse

by Holly Hartman

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The
Chinese year 4712 begins on Jan. 31, 2014.
Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day.
New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth,
when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and
celebrate the New Year.
A Charming New Year
Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year.
Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each
animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Those born in horse years are cheerful,
skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and good with their hands. Rembrandt, Harrison
Ford, Aretha Franklin, Chopin, Sandra Day O'Connor, and President Theodore Roosevelt were born
in the year of the horse.
Fireworks and Family Feasts
At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and
give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can
drive away bad luck. The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom.
Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil
The Lantern Festival
In China, the New Year is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other's homes for
visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year's Eve. In the United States, however,
many early Chinese immigrants arrived without their families, and found a sense of community
through neighborhood associations instead. Today, many Chinese-American neighborhood
associations host banquets and other New Year events.
The lantern festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Some of the lanterns may be
works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history.
People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of
the full moon.
In many areas the highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragonwhich might
stretch a hundred feet longis typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is
held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets. In the United
States, where the New Year is celebrated with a shortened schedule, the dragon dance always takes
place on a weekend. In addition, many Chinese-American communities have added American parade
elements such as marching bands and floats.

2014 Chinese New Year in Washington, DC
2014 - Year of the Horse
Washington, DC celebrates the Chinese New Year with a Chinese New Year Parade, Chinese
Dragon Dances, live musical performances, and more. The Chinese New Year is a 15-day event
that starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15
days later. The first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of
February. The celebration includes dedicating each year to a specific animal. The Dragon, Horse,
Monkey, Rat, Boar, Rabbit, Dog, Rooster, Ox, Tiger, Snake, and Ram are the twelve animals that
are part of this tradition.

In 2014, on the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on January 31st and is The
Year of the Horse. During this important celebration in the Asian culture, it is traditional to wear
red, meant to ward off evil spirits.

Following is a guide to the 2014 Chinese New Year events in Washington DC, Maryland and
Northern Virginia.
In Washington, DC
Chinese New Year Parade and Festival in Washington, DC
February 2, 2014, 2-4:30 p.m. Chinatown - on H Street, NW, between 6th and 8th Streets. Each year a parade is held
in Chinatown to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The event features the traditional Chinese Dragon Dance, Kung Fu
demonstrations and live musical entertainment. See photos of the Chinese New Year Parade.

Celebrate from 12-5 p.m. at the Chinatown Lunar New Year Festival, Chinatown Community Cultural Center, 616 H
Street, NW Washington, DC. Programs and activities will include: live music and dance performances, traditional
Chinese calligraphy, childrens crafts, face painting, tai chi and kung fu demonstrations, lion dancing, poetry readings,
film screenings, art and photo exhibits, raffle prizes, New Year souvenirs, free giveaways, and much more. Special
guest performances by: Wong People and students of Yu Ying Public Charter School.

Chinese New Year Dining Specials in Washington DC
Throughout the month of February, many restaurants in the Washington DC area offer specials in celebration of the
Chinese New Year. Celebrate the Year of the Snake with special tasting menus.
In Maryland
Gaithersburg Chinese New Year Events
2014 Dates to Be Announced. Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland. View beautiful Chinese
New Year decorations and exhibits throughout the mall. Live entertainment (weekends, noon-5:00 p.m.) includes
traditional lion and dragon dances, folk dances and martial arts demonstrations. Demonstrations and workshops
include flower/bonsai arrangement, arts and crafts, painting and games.

Rockville Lunar New Year Parade and Street Festival
2014 Date to Be Announced, 10:30 a.m. 3:00 p.m. (Parade Begins at 11 a.m.)Rockville Town Square, Rockville,
Maryland. The event will include a parade through Rockville Town Square, an outdoor Asian street market and
musical and dance performances. The celebration includes participants, sponsors and performers from the Chinese,
Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, Korean and Japanese communities. VisArts sponsors the event and opens its
studios to the public showcasing its gallery exhibits and offering arts and crafts for children.

Also, from 3-5 p.m. Montgomery County Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St. Rockville, Maryland. The
Mayor and Council of Rockville and the City's Asian Pacific American Task Force host a Lunar New Year
Celebration featuring performances by local groups such as Xie cheng-qi, Child Beijin Opera, Fairfax Chinese Dance
Troupe, Korean Drum Team of Spark Matsunaga Elementary School Tinikling Dancing- MHC Fil-Am Heritage
Dance Ensemble and more.

Chinese New Year at Montgomery County Public Libraries
Thirteen branches of the public libraries welcome the new year with a variety of programs. Music, dance and special
performances feature the sights, sounds and cultures of China, Korea and Vietnam. Programs include introduction to
customs behind the Lunar New Year, traditional dances, hands-on art activities, puppet shows, healing and martial arts
demonstrations including tai-chi and kung fu, calligraphy, crafts, customs, Chinese yo-yo, workshops and children's
activities, and the traditional Chinese lion dance. For specific schedules, visit the Montgomery County Public
Libraries website
In Northern Virginia
Chinese New Year Festival - Falls Church
February 1, 2014, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, VA. The event,
hosted by the Asian Community Service Center, offers performances from China, Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam,
among others including the beautiful Chinese sword dance; Dragon Parade, fashion show, Asian plant art, Asian
foods, Chinese cooking demo, teaching of Chinese characters, crafts, kids activities and more. FREE Admission.

Fair Oaks Mall Lunar New Year Celebration
2014 Dates to Be Announced, 1-6 p.m. Fair Oaks Mall, 11750 Fair Oaks, Fairfax, VA. Ceremonies, performances and
exhibitions will be presented from each day, with most of the events centered in the Fair Oaks Mall Grand Court.
Presented by the Washington Hai Hua Community Center, the event will feature traditional Chinese dragon dances;
music and dance performances; martial arts demonstrations; childrens crafts; and a special lantern festival. More than
200 performers will participate in this years Lunar New Year festival, representing such countries and regions as
China, Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Polynesia and the 50th state of

Chinese New Year Traditions
Different part of China has very different traditions. The following are the most typical traditions.
New Year's Eve Dinner
The New Year's Eve dinner is the most important dinner for Chinese. Normally this is the family
reunion dinner, especially for those with family member away from home. In the New Year's Eve
dinner, normally fish will be served. Dumplings are the most important disk in northern china.
These two dishes mean prosperous. Other disks are depending on personal preference. The
majority of Chinese will have New Year's Eve dinner at home instead of restaurant.
Fireworks are used to drive away the evil in China. Right after the 12:00PM of the New Year's Eve,
fireworks will be launched to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as driven away the evil.
It is believed that the person who launched the first Fireworks in the New Year will get good luck.
Shou Sui
Shou Sui means after the New Year's Eve dinner, family member will normally stay awake during
the night. Some people just stay until the mid night, after the fireworks. According to tales and
legends, there was a mythical beast called the "Year". At the night of New Year's Eve, the "Year"
will come out to harm people, animals, and proprieties. Later people found that the "Year" is afraid
of red color, fire, and loud sound. Therefore, at the New Year's Eve night, people will launch
fireworks, put on some fires, and stay awakes the whole night to fend of the "Year".
Red Packets
Red packet is a red envelope with money in it, range from one to a few thousand Chinese Yuan.
Usually the red racket is given by adults, especially married couple, and elderly to young children
in the New Year days. It was believed that the money in the red packet will suppress the evil from
the children, keep the children healthy, and long living.
New Year Markets
At the New Years days, a temporarily market will be setup mainly selling New Year goods, such as
clothing, fireworks, decoration, foods, small arts, etc. The market is usually decorated with a large
amount of lanterns.
Small Year
Small year is the 23th or 24th of the last month of the year. It is said that this is the day the food
god will leave the family to go to the heaven to report the activity of family to the Emperor of the
heaven. People will have some religious ceremony to farewell the food god, including take down
and burn the paint of the food god. After the New Year's Day, people will buy a new paint of the
food god and post it at the kitchen.
A few days before the Chinese New Year, people will do a complete cleaning of the house and
house ware; means get rid of the old and welcome the new. In old days when bath is not often,
people will normally take a throughout bath to welcome the New Year.
After the cleaning, people will decorate the house to welcome the New Year. Most of the
decorations are red in color. The most popular New Year decorations are upside down fu, dui lian,
lantern, year paint, papercutting, door god, etc..