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January 21, 2014 > Welcome the Year of the Horse

Welcome the Year of the Horse

By Sara Giusti

Get ready to party like itÕs 4712!

Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture and is celebrated for fifteen days, from New YearsÕ Eve to The Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month in the Chinese calendar (typically in February or early March). This year, the New Year falls on January 31, marking the 4712th year of the Chinese calendar.

Legend has it that the Chinese New Year began with a ferocious monster, Nian, who lived in the mountains and would hunt in villages when winterÕs famine struck. For years Nian terrorized villages, pillaging all he could eat, ransacking peace of mind for a piece of meat. Finally, the villagers realized that Nian was afraid of three things: the color red, fire, and loud noises. Thus, the jubilance of Chinese New Year celebrations that we know today was born: red ornaments decorated houses, firecrackers lit up the night, fires roared, and drums were beat to ward off Nian. It worked. The ritual has been repeated ever since in celebration of peopleÕs willingness to cooperate and in NianÕs demise.

Today, families gather from near and far for a reunion dinner on New YearsÕ Eve and to spend time with each other. Multitudes of people travel during this time, and the Chinese government makes arrangements to smooth the process. Chinese New Year travel time, called ÒChunyunÓ in Chinese, is recognized as the largest annual human migration. The number of people traveling has even surpassed the population of China.

It is not uncommon for families to thoroughly clean their houses to Òsweep awayÓ bad luck, making room for good luck, or decorate windows and doors with red paper ornaments. The well-known practice of gifting little red envelopes with money inside also takes place during the Chinese New Year.

With the New Year comes a new Chinese zodiac animal. From January 31, 2014 to February 18, 2015, it will be the Year of the Horse. Those born during the Year of the Horse (2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954 and 1942) are known to be friendly, energetic, and good communicators; according to lore, they will have good fortune in 2014.

San Francisco is home to the oldest and largest Chinese New Year celebration held outside of Asia; the cityÕs Chinese New Year Parade is also the largest Asian cultural celebration in the country. The parade is held two weeks after the first day of Chinese New Year. Luckily, the Tri-City area offers events for those wanting to celebrate sooner.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Saturday, Jan 25
1 p.m. Ð 2 p.m.: Music and martial arts performances
1 p.m. Ð 4 p.m.: Crafts and exhibits
Fremont Main Library
2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont
(510) 745-1421

Chinese Stories and Culture Program
Saturday, Jan 25
10:15 a.m. Ð 11:15 a.m.
Union City Library
34007 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 745-1464 ext. 5

Chinese New Year at NewPark Mall
Saturday, Feb 1
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Lion Dance and martial arts performances by the Jin Mo Athletic Association
Magic Show by Dan Chan
Photo opportunities, prizes, offers and more
NewPark Mall
2086 NewPark Mall, Newark
(510) 794-5523

Rotary Club of FUNÕs Chinese New Year Dinner
Sunday, Feb 9
6 p.m. - 9 p.m., Lion Dance performance starts 7 p.m.
Mayflower Restaurant
34348 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 489-8386
Tickets: $60 per person, or $550 for a table of 10
Purchase at or contact Anna May at (510) 886-2662

San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade
Saturday, Feb 15
5:20 p.m.
Market at Geary, continues on Kearny Street, San Francisco
(415) 680-6297
Tickets: general viewing free, $30 for bleacher seating (located on Kearny St.) plus $8 shipping and handling

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