Margaret's Chinese New Year

Margaret, a 12-year-old girl from Boston, tells about her Chinese New Year experiences. This is a great narrative to help students understand the traditions of the Chinese New Year and how it it different from (and similar to) the ways in which they celebrate New Year's Day with their own families.

Margaret's Chinese New Year

by Margaret, age 12
Reporting from Boston, Massachusetts

Chinese New Year occurs every year on a different date. Every year is represented by an animal. The circle that shows the twelve different animals is called the Chinese Zodiac. The different animals of the Chinese Zodiac are the dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, boar, rat, ox, tiger, and hare. In twelve years the calendar starts over.

On Chinese New Year's Eve, my parents put a red envelope under my pillow. On the red envelopes are gold designs and carved in writings. The writings read lucky remarks. The real gold sits inside the red envelopes. They are filled with real money. The red envelopes have always excited me, even when I was small. When I was small I felt really grown up getting the red envelopes. Of course when I was old enough to keep the money in my own pocket, my parents gave me a long lecture about money. My parents told me to spend my money wisely.

On Chinese New Year, my brother and I also receive red envelopes from relatives and adult friends of my parents. On the kitchen table there is a circular red jar containing sweet New Year's snacks. My family and I eat the snacks before breakfast and my mom records our every movement with the camcorder. Breakfast is always different and better than all other mornings of the year. We eat lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. My family and I go there earlier to see the parades in Chinatown. For dinner there is a huge feast just like the night before. Relatives that live close to us will come to eat with us. And as usual, my mom will record everything we do on camera.

The parades that occur in Chinatown are amazing. People follow the parades wherever they go. There are always dragons moving around. Obviously there are people inside the dragons. They don't hide very well. I can always see their feet and legs! The dragons and other people bang on drums, and make loud noises. They go up to different stores and blow up firecrackers. When I was very little, my mom carried me around to see all of the excitement, and whenever the firecrackers blew up she would cover my ears. When I was old enough to walk, she would buckle me up, like tight luggage, and walk with me to see the parades. Sometimes she had me wrapped so tightly that it was hard to breathe!

After all the commotion and excitement that happens that day, Chinese New Year is over. This is sad because I always have fun. Of course getting money makes me happy. But the red of the envelopes means more than just that. Red means good luck in my culture, and that's what I want for my new year.

Chinese New Year is such a great holiday! Come to Chinatown on New Years to see for yourself. Remember to wear ear plugs because it can be LOUD!

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