By Rashi Shrivastava, GMM Reporter

Symbolic of good fortune and new beginnings, Chinese New Year celebrations have just begun. This year, 2018, which is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese Zodiac, the Chinese New Year will be falling on 16th of February. The Asian American Association hosted a celebration at Stotler Lounge last Friday as a way to celebrate and give everyone a glimpse into Chinese New Year celebrations and customs. This celebratory event was a way of breaking cultural boundaries and a chance to know more about different cultural festivals.

So, what is the Chinese New Year and why is it not on celebrated on the first of January? The Chinese New Year is celebrated on a different day each year because it is commemorated on the first day of the Lunar Calendar. It falls on the new moon day as a sign of a fresh start. The history of this festival is rooted in an old Chinese mystic tale. Legend tells of a monster called Nian, who would come each year and destroy the villages and crops. Every year people would hide in the mountains until an old man scared the monster away with the loud noise of firecrackers, and red signs, which the monster feared. These traditions have continued to this day, with some changes and New Year celebrations can last up to 15 days!

The festival is often celebrated with a variety of food ranging from dumplings, rice cakes and spring rolls. In some traditions, a coin is hidden in one of the dumplings and whoever gets the dumpling with the coin is said to be blessed with good fortune for the rest of the year.

Mizzou is home to a lot of international students and for many of them, festivals are a time when they want to be with their family. It is not uncommon to feel homesick of you are away from home and your family during festivals. Ellen Diao is a junior who studies at MU. She spoke her childhood memories in China when she would play games with her cousins on the first day of Chinese New Year.

“I have a really big family. When I was young, my cousins and uncles and all of us, we would hang out and it was a lot of fun. Because back then we did not have cell phones and we would play. It was definitely more fun when I was a kid.”

She tries her best to keep the tradition alive by surrounding herself with friends on the special day.

“Here, in the states, I usually have a potluck-style dinner with my friends on New Year’s and then we play board games,” said Diao.

The Lunar New Year is also celebrated by a variety of other east Asian cultures, such as the Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. The New Year symbolizes good fortune, prosperity and victory of good over evil. Let us Tigers celebrate this Chinese New Year together and hope for a lucky year ahead!