Scott: Today is the Lunar New Year celebrated by Asian cultures all over the world. And Tom Hanson is with a group of lion dancers from Columbia University in New York City to see how they are getting ready to celebrate.
Tom: These are lion dancers. They are the folks that put on those big lion costumes and dance in parades and celebrations bringing luck in the Lunar New Year. And I got a behind-the-scenes look at their New Years preparations.
Lion dancer: Yeah, so this is a lion. There are two parts. Here’s the head and there’s also a tail. So usually you need two people to perform. One goes in the head and one goes in the tail.
Tom: Very cool! So how heavy is this then? Do you ever get tired?
Lion dancer: No, this is actually pretty light. There’s also this string in the middle. If you pull it, the lion will wink. So you can just move around and wink and play with the mouth.
Tom: It is scary to see one of these things staring me in the face. I have to admit that is a little intimidating. But not for these guys who gave us a quick performance before getting to a pop quiz.
Millions of Asians and Asian Americans are celebrating the Lunar New Year with fireworks, parades and parties. But why is it on January 31st? Well, the date changes each year because the lunar calendar is determined by the cycles of the moon, a month being about 29-and-a-half days. While the Gregorian calendar, the one we use in the U.S., follows a solar cycle, 365 days it takes the earth to travel around the sun. The Chinese zodiac, popular in many Asian cultures, is based on a 12-year cycle with each year representing a different animal.
And now Richard is here to take over your pop quiz. So take it away, Richard.
Richard: So here is the question!
Based on the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the year of what animal? Is it:
You have got ten seconds!
And the answer is “C.” 2014 is the Year of the Horse.
Tom: The Chinese zodiac is made up of twelve animals, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Alright, guys. Now it is time for me to give it a try. Back to you, Scott.
Scott: Happy New Year, Tom!