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Chinese New Year celebrations highlight the culture in Columbia

Many took Sunday as an opportunity to learn about cultures that have origins far from their own as others got the chance to share theirs.
Credit: WTLX

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sunday marked the first day of the Chinese New Year with many in the Columbia area spending the day celebrating.

One of those celebrations was at Boku Kitchen and Saloon as a crowd welcomed the Chinese New Year alongside festive décor and gifts. Owner Michael Duganier said that, with his being a pan-Asian restaurant, he felt like going all out for the holiday.

"We decorated the restaurant, we're giving away envelopes, red envelopes giving red on Chinese New Year is for good luck," he said. "Some guests are walking away with water rabbits - stuffed animals - because it's the year of the water rabbit."

According to Jiang Liu, a Chinese language professor at the University of South Carolina, the Lunar New Year dates back thousands of years.

"Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, the word lunar, it's based on the cycle of the moon the movement of the moon," he said. "China is an agricultural country or society for over 2000 years. Farmers used the cycle of the moon as a timeline to do the farming."

He noted that there are many traditions within the holiday, Liu said - all of which focus on the family. He added that, on the first day of the new year, families will gather for what he described as the most important meal of the year which kicks off a weeks-long festival.

"The Spring Festival is like a 15 days length festival starting from the first day of the lunar new year until the 15," he said.

For those celebrating in Columbia on Sunday morning, it was an opportunity to learn about that culture. Tanvi Patel visited Boku with her friends.

"I'm Indian, so it's still kinda still in the Asian realm but I've never done Chinese New Year," she said. "So, I never knew how big the color red meant to the culture. And I need the good luck; so, I'm going to wear the color red and I'm going to be here to make sure my year goes as well as it can."

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