Lunar New Year comes to Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The MU Asian American Association celebrated the Chinese New Year on campus Monday. According to the lunisolar Chinese calendar 2016 is the Year of the Monkey and begins on February 8.

“Tonight we are throwing a little celebration, and we are going to do a skit that provides the story of Nian, which is a monster that terrorized the village and brings background to why the Chinese use red and fire crackers during the Lunar New Year,” the programming chair of the MU Asian American Association, Jenny Lam, said.

The Chinese New Year, also know as Spring Festival, is one of the largest celebrations in Asian culture. The 12 Animals that cycle through to symbolize each year are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

“We get up very early that day to watch the Lunar New Year’s TV gala via YouTube and video chat with our family in China. We also cook some Chinese dumplings to celebrate,” Columbia resident, Rachel Wong, said

Because America doesn’t celebrate the Chinese New Year, many Chinese people in Columbia don’t have a chance to celebrate the holiday on Monday. Instead, they marked the Chinese New Year during the weekend. Chinese people observe the Chinese New Year similarly to how Americans celebrate Christmas. People clean their houses, cook traditional food and reunite with their families to celebrate this holiday.

“In China, we have a lot of people and we usually have a big dinner with family, but here we usually gather with some friends and cook some Chinese dishes,” said Wong. 

People were shopping everywhere in Columbia including Hong Kong Market, Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee. Lam said although she is away from China, celebrating Chinese New Year is still quite important for her.

“It ties me back into my culture, and it ties me back in with traditions and also with my family.” Lam said. 

Lam said as more and more Chinese people move to Columbia, the Chinese New Year is growing popularity and recognition.

Various Eastern and Southeastern Asian countries, in addition to China, celebrate Lunar New Year.

(Editor's Note: This story has been clarified with information about who celebrates Lunar New Year.)