Thursday, February 07, 2008

Guang Hei Fat Choi

Happy Chinese New Year

The Year of the Rat.........
(My Mother in Law, Sandy was born in the year of the Rat)
The first of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac calendar

From Wikipedia
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is sometimes called the Lunar New Year, especially by people outside China. It is an important holiday in East Asia. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival

It is unclear when the beginning of the year was celebrated before the
Qin Dynasty. Traditionally, the year was said to have begun with month 1 during the Xia Dynasty, month 12 during the Shang Dynasty, and month 11 during the Zhou Dynasty. However, records show that the Zhou Dynasty began its year with month 1. Intercalary months, used to keep the lunar calendar synchronized with the sun, were added after month 12 during both the Shang Dynasty (according to surviving oracle bones) and the Zhou Dynasty (according to Sima Qian). The first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang changed the beginning of the year to month 10 in 221 BC, also changing the location of the intercalary month to after month 9. Whether the New Year was celebrated at the beginning of month 10, of month 1, or both is unknown. In 104 BC, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty established month 1 as the beginning of the year, where it remains. This year the Chinese New Year will be on Thursday, February 7, 2008.

Hand-painted Chinese New Year's
poetry pasted on the sides of doors leading to people's homes, Lijiang, Yunnan, China.
According to legend, in
ancient China, the Nián (年) was a man-eating beast from the mountains (in other versions from under the sea), which came out every 12 months somewhere close to winter to prey on humans. The people later believed that the Nian was sensitive to loud noises and the colour red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the colour red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations.

Public holiday
Chinese New Year is observed as a public holiday in a number of countries and territories where a sizable Chinese population resides. Since Chinese New Year falls on different dates on the Gregorian calendar every year on different days of the week, some of these governments opt to shift working days in order to accommodate a longer public holiday. Also like many other countries in the world, a statutory holiday is added on the following work day when the New Year falls on a weekend.
It is also important to understand that informal celebrations, which may span a period of several weeks before and after the official holidays, are the time when many businesses operate in 'holiday mode', and generally aren't the time for making decisions or business negotiations.
The Chinese New Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known as "new-year visits". New clothings are usually worn to signify a new year. The colour red is liberally used in all decorations.
Red packets are given to juniors and children by the married and elders. See Symbolism below for more explanation.
All these festivities may vary from region to region and from family to family.
Clothing mainly featuring the colour red is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it is believed that red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the new year.
Good luck
Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year.
Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, as explained below, cleaning the house after New Year's Day is frowned upon)
Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the year to come. Asians will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity.
Wearing a new pair of
slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you.
The night before the new year, bathe yourself in
pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the new year.

Bad luck
Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in
Cantonese, or "evil" in Mandarin.
Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants"(kù) is a homophone for the word for "bitter"(kŭ) in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive, as the word 'pants'(fu) in Cantonese is also a homophone for the word for "wealth".)
Washing your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although modern hygienic concerns take precedence over this tradition)
Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year.
Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious as well.
Buying books is bad luck because the word for "book" is a homonym to the word "lose".
Avoid clothes in black and white, as black is a symbol of bad luck, and white is a traditional funeral colour.
We are planning to celebrate tonight by having a picnic of Chinese food on Sophia's Nursery floor. We have collected several children's books about Chinese New Year so we will read those and think about Sophia in China. Tomorrow night we are celebrating with our FCC group at a local Chinese Restaurant and on Sunday we are going to celebrate at EPCOT CHINA with my mom and my Mother in Law and Father In Law with you guessed it Chinese food... LOL yes we love Chinese food....

I can not recognize today without thinking about all of those people in China including the children who are suffering through this terrible winter weather. We ask that you keep them in your prayers. If you want to read an update on the situation with the orphanages please go to You can continue to donate to the Little mouse Fund here

One last thing, Don't forget to vote on where you think Sophia will be from....


Layla said...

Happy Chinese New Year to you both. Bring on the year of the rat! It sounds like you guys have some fun stuff planned. Enjoy:)

LilyKate's Mom said...

Happy New Year!! This is our year to finally meet our girls.

love you guys - have fun tonight and this weekend!


amy said...

Have a happy day!

Scott & Hope said...

Susan, you are so good. I didn't even post about CNY!