Year of the Ox


Clara Schor

Chinese teacher Ms. Cohen poses in her traditional Chinese New Year outfit with one of the decorations in her classroom.

Clara Schor, Social Media Director

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a time to celebrate the traditional lunar new year in the Chinese culture. 

The lunar month contains the winter solstice as the eleventh month, which means that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This year signifies the year of the Ox in zodiac signs. The Ox is significant because these people have a hard work ethic. It also signified that this new year will be forward moving. 

The cycle repeats every 12 years with 12 different animals each year and their reputed attributes. The order of the Chinese zodiac or “Shengxiao” is Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 

Normally, junior Will Zhang celebrates the New Year by gathering with his family, sharing joy, and reflecting on the previous year. Due to COVID-19, Zhang is unable to go on a family vacation but will celebrate by enjoying hot pot, a traditional Chinese dish.

“Hot pot is special in the Chinese New Year because it means ‘all in one’ which symbolizes family reunion,” Zhang explains.  

Zhang, born in 2004, has the zodiac of a monkey. “I feel connected to it because I am very active physically and psychologically,” Zhang says.

A unique tradition normally associated with the Chinese New Year is when the children receive red envelopes known as Hong Bao from older family members. They often contain money and symbolize good wishes and luck for the New Year ahead. 

Mandarin teacher Ms. Lei Deng Cohen also celebrates the Chinese New Year. Normally she would celebrate with her fellow Chinese friends but this year due to COVID-19, she is unable to properly celebrate. 

One specialty she likes about the Chinese New Year is the fish at meals. Whole fish is a staple for New Year celebrations in China and the fish symbolize prosperity for the next year. 

As Ms. Cohen’s birth year is the year of the horse, she feels very connected to it. 

“Horses forever run, I forever learn”, she said. 

Another student, senior Steven Gu, celebrates the Chinese New Year as well. Last year when the pandemic started, China was in complete lockdown, so traveling back home was not plausible under strict quarantine law in China. This year with a less strict restriction, people get to reunite with their family. 

Gu says that because of COVID-19, “Personally, I cannot travel back to China to celebrate this day with my friends and family due to Covid and School especially” . 

He has not been able to celebrate the New Year for the past 6 years because of school.

Also being born in the year of the horse with Ms. Cohen, Steven does not particularly feel connected to his Chinese zodiac sign. 

Whenever there is a Chinese New Year of the horse, it is a traditional thought that at one’s birth year, trouble will come. Steven’s parents force him to wear red pajamas when it is his birth animal year because wearing red clothes, will bring one luck instead of the trouble that is supposed to come to oneself.