"It's the most significant event in China," she says of the holiday, which spurs nearly 3 billion Chinese to travel home and many Asian businesses to close for a week. "It's a time to welcome the new year with family."
DePaul will hold its annual Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 16 on its Lincoln Park Campus for its "family" of students, faculty and neighboring community.
Chinese New Year traditions are built on the premise of attracting good fortune and avoiding bad luck, Jin says. Whatever transpires on Chinese New Year's Eve and Day is believed to stay for the entire year, she adds.
Here are some ways to celebrate Chinese New Year:
• Wear red. Chinese mythology states that red wards off evil spirits, Jin says. Those born in a year of the dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 or 2006), should wear red every day to avoid bad luck as people born under the celebrated astrological sign are believed to be most vulnerable to bad luck that year, she says.
• Eat dumplings. These are considered a lucky food because they resemble a Chinese unit of currency called a tael, so eating dumplings symbolizes wealth in the new year. Also, the Chinese word for dumpling sounds like the word for "change." Other auspicious foods include tangerines and sweet pastries. Avoid sour foods as it implies a difficult and unlucky future, Jin says.
• Clean the night before, but not on New Year's Day. Start the new year off with a clean house by clearing out old luck and bad spirits on Chinese New Year's Eve. The Mandarin word for "dust" sounds like the word for "old," Jin says. Leaving the house untouched on New Year's Day ensures that good luck from the new year sticks around, according to Chinese tradition.
• Avoid negative words and arguments. Chinese New Year sets the tone for relationships for the rest of the year. In China, Jin says, people avoid certain words and numbers that have negative connotations such as the number "four" which sounds like the Mandarin word for death.
• Make noise. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally involve setting off firecrackers to scare off evil spirits. While pollution concerns have stopped this tradition in China, Jin says, the idea is to make noise to keep bad luck at bay.