By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan 
The Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese holiday. The exact date depends on the traditional Chinese calendar — the Lunar Calendar, Nong Li — which was set by the 24 Solar Terms. These Terms help farmers know when it is best to plant their corps.
The Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year. It’s a time for families to come together and have a reunion dinner at the end of the year. People start celebrating on the Chinese New Year’s Eve and stay up until the next day to ring in the new year. The Spring Festival will last until the 15th day of the first month on the Lunar Calendar. This day is called the Lantern Festival, Yuan Xiao Jie.
The upcoming Chinese New Year of 2014 is Friday. There is a specific animal to symbolize each year; for 2014, a horse, Ma, will be the symbol, and anyone born during that time will be in that category. For me, I was born in 1992, so I am a monkey, Hou.
This is the fourth year I can’t spend the Spring Festival with my family in China. I wish I was able to eat my grandma’s delicious dishes, such as her spicy double-cooked pork slices, chat with my relatives, and shoot off fireworks to welcome in the new year. I expect to be with them next year because I really miss celebrating in China.
Before the Chinese New Year, my parents will clean the house in order to sweep away the “ill fortune.” Red paper cuttings — a traditional Chinese handicraft — with fortune words will also be stuck on the windows and door for luck. After dinner, the older generations will give red envelops filled with money to the children and teenagers in the family.
The Chinese people in the United States, like me, still have many different rituals to celebrate the new year. Even though there will be celebrations in the Chinatowns of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, most Iowa Chinese students celebrated at an event Jan. 25 in the IMU. Many people here will cook in a hot pot — similar to the American crock pot — to welcome in the New Year. It is the easiest method to satisfy different tastes whether you’re from the North, South, or Midwest part of China.
This year, my roommates and I will have friends over to welcome in the new year. We will cook a fish ball — similar to a meatball — and sliced beef omasum in the hot pot and then celebrate at midnight.
Xin Nian Kuai Le (Happy New Year).