Feb. 9 was the beginning of the Chinese New Year, which for 2005 is the year of the rooster. According to the Finger Lakes Times, because the Chinese follow a lunar, instead of solar, calendar year, Chinese New Year — also known as the Spring Festival — falls between Jan. 21 and Feb. 19.
“The Spring Festival is the biggest, most important celebration in China,” said Jinghao Zhou, assistant professor of Asian languages and cultures department in the Feb. 8 article “The New Year — Chinese style: 2005 is the year of the rooster.” He has lived in the United States for 12 years.
“Since coming to Geneva, I do not recall [celebrating] with a big gathering,” Zhou said. “In the United States, generally speaking, we follow the solar calendar and the American holidays.”
Zhou said it is believed that a man-eating beast comes out at the end of the year. Fire, the color red, light and noise are all used to ward off the beast. According to legend, the beast is afraid of the color red, but red also represents good luck. People put up red paper on their doors or wear red clothing for both purposes. Fireworks are used to scare the beast, and lanterns give off light and fire.
Beyond the brightly colored decorations and loud fireworks, Zhou said the holiday focuses on the family, even when they're a world away.
“When the New Year comes, we always remember our family, we send gifts and money to our parents, make international phone calls and send them greeting cards,” Zhou said.
Zhou joined the faculty in 2001. He is the author of “Remaking China's Public Philosophy for the Twenty-first Century” (Praeger 2003) and had more than 40 academic articles published in Chinese publications before he came to the U.S.