LIVINGSTON, NJ - This year, on January 31, in celebration of Chinese New Year—"Year of the Horse," the Livingston Library, which boasts one of the largest Chinese language collections in NJ, with over 3,000 books, over 600 Chinese language DVD’s and books on CD, and more than 30 magazines written in Chinese, has created an English/Chinese display of books, magazines, movies and music from and about China and Chinese culture. The display includes titles for adults and children including novels, cookbooks, travel books, Chinese history and much more.

Chinese New Year marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is a time for family reunions, for honoring ancestors and for thanking the gods for their blessings. Families make great preparations for this special celebration. Before the New Year, the house is cleaned and special dishes are prepared. Homes are filled with flowers and fruit. Blossoms symbolizing longevity and courage are displayed—a popular belief is that flowers blooming on New Year’s Day bring good fortune for the next year. And, special candies that signify growth, good health, abundance and togetherness are offered including candied melon, coconut, lotus seed and watermelon seed. Also, scrolls or poems are hung on walls or doorways to carry messages of good health, luck, long life, prosperity, and happiness—popular one reads, “May everything be according to your wishes.”

On the seventh day of the New Year, everyone adds a year to their age—no matter when they were born. This is done because in traditional China, individual birthdays were not considered to be as important as this New Year’s date.

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In addition, legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all of the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came (horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon and snake), so Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Therefore, those born in “Horse Years”—1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002 and 2014 are said to be cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and good with their hands.

Gung Hay Fat Choy means "Best wishes and Congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year." Anyone unfamiliar with Chinese celebrations and Chinese culture can now learn more at the Livingston Public Library.