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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lunar New Year

In two days, several East Asian countries, including China, Korea and Vietnam, will celebrate the lunar New Year. In China, the celebration traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month (which is Feb. 7 this year) and lasts until Feb. 15. In Korea, the celebration begins on the same day, but lasts only three days. The Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, is also usually celebrated for three days.

In China, the informal celebration can begin weeks before the lunar New Year and it is a time when Chinese migrant workers travel home for reunion dinners with their families on the eve of the New Year. This is why extreme snow storms this year caused havoc for the New Year’s celebrants trying to get home.

In China and other countries, the celebration includes cleaning house in the days before the holiday, buying new clothes, wearing red and giving red packets with money to children.

According to ancient Chinese legend, a man-eating beast called the Nian came out of the mountains (or in some versions – the sea), to feast every 12 months during winter. The Chinese believed the monster was sensitive to loud noises and the color red so they scared it away with fireworks and using as much red as possible. The Chinese characters for “to celebrate the new year” also means “the passover of the Nian.”

You can celebrate several lunar New Year’s events at these library branches:

George Mason Regional Library
Saturday, Feb. 9, noon
Korean New Year Celebration. A celebration of Korean culture through traditional dance, accompanied by traditional instruments that evoke the mood of a very dramatic and moving history of the country. All ages. To sign up, call 703-256-3800.

Kingstowne Library
Saturday, Feb. 9, 10:30 a.m.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year! Celebrate the Chinese New Year with stories, activities and snacks. Learn simple calligraphy with author Andy Zhang. Age 6-12. To sign up, call 703-339-4610.

Saturday, Feb. 9, noon
Meet the Author: Andy Zhang.* Zhang will discuss and read selections from his novel, Memories of An Eastern Sky. Refreshments offered. Cosponsored by the Friends of Kingstowne Library. Adults. To sign up, call 703-339-4610.
*Listen to a podcast interview with the author.

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