- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2007

By Samantha Lee, age 9

Luxmanor Elementary School, Rockville

It’s time for red packets, candy and good food. Around this time of year, during January or February, my family celebrates Chinese New Year. The actual day changes every year depending on the Chinese calendar, and the celebration lasts for 15 days. This year the celebration of year 4705 begins on Feb. 18.

Each year, we also honor a different animal from the Chinese zodiac. In the Chinese zodiac there are 12 animals, and each year is dedicated to one. This cycle determines your sign, similar to the western astrological signs. Each animal sign has certain personality traits, likes and dislikes. I was born in the year of the ox, but the pig will be celebrated in 2007.

During Chinese New Year, we do many things in preparation for the New Year. We clean our homes, visit families and pay respect to our ancestors. I will take the time to visit my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles to wish them a New Year filled with luck and prosperity. We usually go from house to house to visit each family member. It is important to go to everyone’s home.

It’s also important to honor your ancestors in your home. There is usually a special table with photographs of them, and you give thanks to them by offering food and wine and lighting incense.

My family and I will also eat certain foods like fish, dumplings, oranges and special candies to have good luck and health for the upcoming year. On New Year’s Eve, families have big get-togethers to have a big dinner.

Children also receive red packets from grown-ups filled with money for luck and wealth. You have to remember to say “Happy New Year,” or “Gong Shi Fa Tsai.”

You can also visit some places in the city where there is a festival with a dragon parade or lion dancers. Sometimes they also have dancers or acrobats in fancy costumes and makeup. Or there may also be Chinese opera singers or martial artists performing in the streets. In China, you would see these things along with great music and the lighting of firecrackers.

Happy New Year!

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