In obedience to tradition and with a sense of true patriotism, the Confucius Institute of the state-run University of Liberia (CIUL) at the weekend held an elaborate program in commemoration of the Chinese Spring Festival, otherwise known as the Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is an annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon, which occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Festivities last until the following full moon.

The holiday is sometimes called the Lunar New Year because the dates of celebration follow the phases of the moon. Since the mid-1990s, people in China have been given seven consecutive days off work during the Chinese New Year. This week of relaxation has been designated “Spring Festival,” a term that is sometimes used to refer to the Chinese New Year in general.

Here in Liberia, the festival was organized by the authorities of the Confucius Institute and attended by students of the institute at the 13th Street staff compound.

During the occasion, Madam Zhou Hongzhuan, Director of CIUL, explained to students the importance of the Spring Festival to China and its people.

She drilled the students and guests through the many “remarkable” activities that are carried out to befit the celebration. She named some of those key activities as spring cleaning, paper cutting, sprint couplets, family reunion dinner, and firing of firecrackers, among others.

Madam Zhou indicated that these celebrations are done to usher out the old year and bring forth the luck and prosperity of the new one.

Comparatively, the CIUL Director likened the celebration of the Spring Festival to the Christmas Day of the West.

“The Spring Festival is the most important festival for the Chinese people and is a time when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West,” indicated Director Zhou.

Meanwhile, the origins of the Chinese New Year are steeped in legend. One legend is that thousands of years ago a monster named Nian (“Year”) would attack villagers at the beginning of each New Year. During this time, young people are given money in colorful red envelopes. In addition, Chinese New Year is a time to feast and visit family members. Many traditions of the season honor relatives who have died.

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