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ISSUE 115 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/22/2002

World observes Year of the Horse

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 22, 2002

On Feb. 12, Asian communities throughout the world celebrated the beginning of the year 4699 in the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Horse. In Minneapolis, the Tibetan community held a 12-hour celebration, including songs, dancing and a feast.

On campus, the mood was more low-key. The Asian Awareness Association sold red envelopes, or hong bao (given for good luck), and origami tulips. There were no campus-wide festivities, but students celebrated in their own ways.

Jamie Lepore ‘'04, Esther Lee ‘'03, and Nguyen-Ngoc Pham ‘'05 gave a presentation to first-graders at Sibley Elementary School. They wore Asian clothing and taught the children about the Chinese zodiac and how to say "Happy New Year" in Mandarin.

Lepore also threw a Mah-Jongg party for some of her friends. "That was the highlight of my day," she says. Shannon Young ’'02 didn’'t do anything to celebrate, but remembers fireworks in China on the New Year in 2001. "If you looked across the city, there was smoke and fire everywhere," she says. She also described the symbols put on doors in China, which are the upside-down character for luck. Visitors tell the owners of the house, "Your luck is upside-down" which is equivalent to "Good luck has come here."

Perhaps the most common tradition for Lunar New Year is that of the red envelopes. These are usually given by parents to children or unmarried young people, or by employers to employees, and contain money to signify good luck in the new year. The money may be spent or kept. "I usually keep my new year money," Lepore says.

Lunar New Year is also an important family time. Lepore visited her family in Rochester over the weekend, and ate orange chicken and noodles "for long life," she says. When she was younger, she received new clothes. Young said she makes a point to be home for new year. They eat special foods for their new year meal, including fish, because the character for fish is a synonym for "plenty".

The Lunar New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice, and fluctuates from Jan. 21 to Feb. 19. This year is a leap year, which means a thirteenth month is added between the fourth and fifth months of the year, to compensate for the shorter months of the lunar calendar. The new year celebration lasts for fifteen days, ending with the Festival of Lanterns, which will fall on Feb. 27 this year.

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