To Our Harrison Family,
Chinese families around the world welcomed their New Year on February 1, based on the lunar calendar. February 1, 2022, marked the start of the year of the Tiger.
Elyse Bittner, of our IDEA Board, interviewed a local Chinese family in recognition of the event. Rui Zou and his wife, Wanheng Wu, came to the United States in 2001 and made Mullica Hill their home in 2013. Their sons, Shawn, and Nolan are 15 and 10 respectively and attend Clearview and PVS.
Here is Elyse’s account of their discussion:
“Different animals represent different traits or personalities,” says Mullica Hill resident, 15-year-old Shawn Zou. The tiger, one of 12 zodiacs that rotate yearly, represents strength and braveness. The other zodiacs are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
The Chinese New Year begins with the second full moon after the winter solstice, usually occurring in late January or early February. “It’s always around the same time as the Super Bowl,” says Shawn.
Shawn’s brother, Nolan, age 10, says it is traditional to clean the house, “to get rid of the old.” Nolan also said, “The family has to be together on New Year’s Eve. And we eat a bunch of food”. Each food represents something in the Chinese culture: rice cakes (to get better), chicken (good luck), fish (make more than you wish), sweet rice dumplings (prosperity), and apples (peace and security).
“We also get a red envelope,” Nolan says. Hongbao is “lucky money – best wishes for the new year.” During the Chinese New Year, the Zou family visits Chinese friends, and they give each other’s kids Hongbao.
There is also a red piece of paper with gold embellishments, with a blessing called a Fu. “It’s all good things – happiness, joy, and fortune,” Shawn says. “You put it upside down because in Chinese, the word for upside down is a homophone – to come somewhere, to get here,” Shawn says. “Happiness will come to our household.”
In China, there are lantern shows everywhere to celebrate the New Year. Here in Mullica Hill, Shawn and Nolan assembled their own lantern that lights up. “Back in China, years ago, the legend was that the New Year brought an animal creature and it would scare people,” Nolan explains. “And then, people tried to scare it away with fireworks. So that’s why fireworks are part of the tradition – to scare away the creature, so it runs away.”
The family also hangs paper lanterns all around the house, under the lights. Almost all things representing the Chinese New Year are red and yellow. “They are good colors in China,” said Shawn. “It means things will get better, year after year.” This year, like all others, the Zou family hopes for everyone to be healthy, safe and happy.
Thanks to the Zou boys for providing Elyse with such great insight to their traditions. On behalf of our whole community, we wish all our residents of Chinese descent a Happy New Year.
Together for Harrison Township,