Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year ( PIG Year)

Wish your pocket fatty like a pig, wish your angpao sparkling like golden pig, but don't let our body look like a golden pig. Wishing you a happy golden pig year.

Chinese New Year, a.k.a. Spring Festival (Simplified Chinese: 春节; Traditional Chinese: 春節; pinyin: Chūnjié) or the Lunar New Year (Simplified Chinese: 农历新年; Traditional Chinese: 農曆新年; pinyin: Nónglì xīnnián), is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The festival proper begins on the first day of the first lunar month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: zhēng yuè) in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival (Simplified Chinese: 元宵节; Traditional Chinese: 元宵節; pinyin: yuánxiāojié).

Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxì (除夕). Chu literally means "change" and xi means "Eve".

Celebrated internationally in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had a strong influence on the new year celebrations of its neighbours. These include Koreans, Vietnamese, Mongolians, the Nepalese, the Bhutanese but exclude Japanese (see Losar).

In countries such as The Philippines, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations, the Lunar New Year is also celebrated, largely by ethnic Chinese, but it is not part of the traditional cultures of these countries. In Thailand, for example, the true New Year celebration of the ethnic Thais is Songkran, which is totally different and is celebrated in April.

Around Chinese New Year is also the time of the largest human migration, when migrant workers in China, as well as overseas Chinese around the world travel home to have reunion dinners with their families on Chinese New Year's eve. More interurban trips are taken in mainland China in this 40-day period than the total population of China.

New Year dates
Main article: Chinese Astrology
Animal Branch Dates 鼠 Rat 子 Zi February 19, 1996 February 7, 2008

牛 Ox 丑 Chou February 7, 1997 January 26, 2009
虎 Tiger 寅 Yin January 28, 1998 February 14, 2010
兔 Rabbit 卯 Mou February 16, 1999 February 3, 2011
龍 Dragon 辰 Chen February 5, 2000 January 23, 2012
蛇 Snake 巳 Si January 24, 2001 February 10, 2013
馬 Horse 午 Wu February 12, 2002 January 31, 2014
羊 Sheep 未 Wei February 1, 2003 February 19, 2015
猴 Monkey 申 Shen January 22, 2004 February 8, 2016
雞 Rooster 酉 You February 9, 2005 January 28, 2017
狗 Dog 戌 Xu January 29, 2006 February 16, 2018
豬 Pig 亥 Hai February 18, 2007 February 5, 201

This year's Lunar New Year is on February seventeenth. It is the year of the pig[1]. The Chinese New Year dates are determined by the lunisolar Chinese calendar, which is also used in countries that have adopted or have been influenced by Han culture, notably the Koreans, the Japanese, the Filipinos, the Tibetans, the Thai, the Vietnamese and the pagan Bulgars.

Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the new year containing a new moon (some sources include New Year's Eve) and ends on the Lantern Festival fourteen days later. This occurs around the time of the full moon as each lunation is about 29.53 days in duration. In the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, on a date between January 22 and February 20. This means that the holiday usually falls on the second (very rarely third) new moon after the winter solstice. In traditional Chinese Culture, Lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which usually falls on either February 4 or 5.....

The dates for the Spring Festival from 1996 to 2019 (in the Gregorian calendar) are listed below, along with the year's presiding animal zodiac and its earthly branch. The names of the earthly branches have no English counterparts and are not the Chinese translations of the animals.Chinese celebrate with the russians.

Many non-Chinese confuse their Chinese birth-year with their Gregorian birth-year. As the Chinese New Year starts in late January to mid February, the Chinese year dates from 1 January until that day in the new Gregorian year remain unchanged from the previous Gregorian year. For example, the 1989 year of the snake began on 6 February 1989. The year 1990 is considered by some people to be the year of the horse. However, the 1989 year of the snake officially ended on 26 January 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to 25 January 1990 was actually born in the year of the snake rather than the year of the horse.

Many online Chinese Sign calculators do not account for the non-alignment of the two calendars, incorrectly using Gregorian-calendar years rather than official Chinese New Year dates.

See Chinese astrology for a list of Chinese New Year dates for every year from 1900 to 2020, covering one full sexagesimal cycle (1924–1983) and portions of two others.

It is unclear when the beginning of the year was celebrated before the Qin Dynasty. It is possible that the beginning of the year began with month 1 during the Xia Dynasty, month 12 during the Shang Dynasty, and month 11 during the Zhou Dynasty in China[citation needed]. We know that 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. 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.

According to legend, in ancient China, the Nián (年), a man-eating beast from the mountains, which came out every 12 months, could silently infiltrate houses to prey on humans. The people later believed that the Nian was sensitive to loud noises and the color red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the color red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Guò nián (Simplified Chinese: 过年; Traditional Chinese: 過年), which means to celebrate the new year, literally means the passover of the Nian.

Public Holiday
Chinese New Year is observed as a public holiday in a number of countries and territories where a sizeable 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.

Mainland China

The first seven days.

The first five days
Hong Kong and Macau

The first 3 days. If one of the first 3 days is on Sunday, Chinese New Year's Eve will be listed into public holiday. For example, the first day of year 2007 (18 February) is on Sunday, Chinese New Year's Eve(17 February) is listed into public holiday.
Malaysia and Singapore

The first two days
Brunei and Indonesia

The first day

Other official acknowledgements
A few countries around the world regularly issue postage stamps and numismatic coins to commemorate Chinese New Year. Although Chinese New Year is not institutionalized as public holiday, these countries recognize the significant number of their citizens who are of Chinese origin. The countries and territories that do so include Australia, Canada, Christmas Island, El Salvador, France, New Zealand, and the United States.

Other countries

The Japanese now celebrate their New Year (shōgatsu) on 1 January, with the first three days being holidays.

The Vietnamese also celebrate their New Year, or Tết, on the same day as the Chinese calendar, with a 4-day public holiday. However, because of the time difference between Hanoi and Beijing (China), Tết may differ from the Chinese calendar by a day every 22nd or 23rd year.

Korea now follows the Gregorian calendar for business and academic purposes, but the lunar new year is still marked with a three-day holiday for the Lunar New Year, or Seollal, compared to a single day of holiday on January 1st.

The Chinese Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known as "new-year visits" (Chinese: 拜年; pinyin: bàinián). New clothings are usually worn to signify a new year. The color red is liberally used in all decorations. Red packets are given to juniors and children by the married and elders. See Symbology below for more explanation.

Days before the new year
On the days before the New Year celebration, Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning, known as 'spring cleaning'. It is believed the cleaning sweeps away bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-panes a new coat of red paint. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets.

Reunion dinner
A reunion dinner is held on New Year's Eve where members of the family, near and far, get together for celebration. The venue will usually be in the home of the most senior member of the family. The New Year's Eve dinner is very sumptuous and traditionally includes chicken and fish. Fish (魚, yú) is included, but not eaten up completely (and the remainder is stored overnight), as the Chinese phrase 年年有餘 (nián nián yǒu yú), which means "may there be surpluses every year", sounds the same as "may there be fish every year."

Buddha's delight (Traditional Chinese: 羅漢齋; Simplified Chinese: 罗汉斋; pinyin: luóhàn zhāi), an elaborate vegetarian dish traditionally comprising 18 ingredients, is sometimes served by Chinese families on the eve and the first day of the New Year. A type of black hair-like moss, pronounced "fat choy" in Cantonese, is also featured in Buddha's delight and other dishes, since its name sounds similar to "prosperity.". Hakkas usually serve kiu nyuk (扣肉) and ngiong tiu fu.

Most Northerners serve dumplings as the main dish in this festive season and many Chinese around the world do the same. It is believed that dumplings (Traditional Chinese: 餃子; pinyin: jiǎozi) resemble ancient Chinese gold ingots (Traditional Chinese: 金元寶; pinyin: jīn yuán bǎo). Mandarin oranges are the most popular and most abundant fruit during Chinese New Year -- jin ju or kam in Cantonese.

Red packets for the immediate family are sometimes distributed during the reunion dinner. These packets often contain money in certain numbers that reflect good luck and honorability.

First day of the new year
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some Asians consider lighting fires to be verboten on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before.

Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time where families will pay a visit to their oldest and most senior member of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.

Some families may invite a Lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Lunar New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises.

Second day of the new year

Incense is burned at the graves of ancestors as part of the offering and prayer ritual.The second day of the Chinese New Year is for married daughters to visit their birth parents. Traditionally, daughters who have been married may not have the opportunity to visit their birth families frequently.

Third day and fourth of the new year
The third day of Chinese New Year is generally accepted as an inappropriate day to visit relatives due to the following schools of thought. People may subscribe to one or both thoughts.

1) It is known as "chì kǒu" , meaning that it is easy to get into arguments. It is suggested that the cause could be the fried food and visiting during the first two days of the New Year celebration.

2) Families who had an immediate kin deceased in the past 3 years will not go house-visiting as a form of respect to the dead. The third day of the New Year is allocated to grave-visiting instead. Some people conclude it is inauspicious to do any house visiting at all.

Fifth day of the new year
In northern China, people eat Jiǎo zi (dumplings) on the morning of Po Wu. This is also the birthday of the Chinese god of wealth. In Taiwan, businesses traditionally re-open on this day, accompanied by firecrackers.

Seventh day of the new year
The seventh day, traditionally known as renri , the common man's birthday, the day when everyone grows one year older.

It is the day when tossed raw fish salad, yusheng, is eaten. This is a custom primarily among the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Singapore. People get together to toss the colorful salad and make wishes for continued wealth and prosperity.

For many Chinese Buddhists, this is another day to avoid meat.

Chinese New Year's celebrations, on the eighth day, in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

Ninth day of the new year
The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven (天公) in the Taoist Pantheon.

This day is especially important to Hokkiens. Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, the Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven. Offerings will include sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that had protected the Hokkiens from certain extermination generations ago. Tea is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honoured person.

Fifteenth day of the new year
The fifteenth day of the new year is the last day of the traditional New Year's celebrations. It is celebrated as Yuánxiāo jié (元宵节), the Chinese Valentine's. otherwise known as Chap Goh Mei in Fujian dialect. Tangyuan (Simplified Chinese: 汤圆; Traditional Chinese: 湯圓; pinyin: tāngyuán), a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is eaten this day. Depending on locality, the same day may also be celebrated as the Lantern Festival, or as the Chinese Valentine's Day.

New Year practices

Red packets
Traditionally, red envelopes or red packets (Cantonese: lai sih or lai see) (利是, 利市 or; (Mandarin: 'hóng bāo'; Hokkien: 'ang pow' (POJ: âng-pau); Hakka: 'fung bao'; are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is common for adults to give red packets to children. Red packets are also known as 压岁钱 (Ya Sui Qian, which was evolved from , literally, the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit ) during this period.

The red envelopes always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. The amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals (白金 : Bai Jin). Since the number 4 is considered bad luck, because the word for four is a homophone for death, money in the red envelopes never adds up to $4. However, the number 6 is considered lucky, and $6 is commonly found in the red envelopes.

Note: in this situation, odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit, rather than the last. Thirty and fifty, for example, are odd numbers, and are thus appropriate as funeral cash gifts. Having said that, it is also rather common and quite acceptable to have cash gifts in a red packet using a single bank note - e.g. ten or fifty dollar bills are being used frequently.

The act of requesting for red packets is normally called (Mandarin): (Cantonese). A married person could not turn down such request as it means that this person would be "out of luck" in the new year

New Year markets

Shoppers at a New Year market in Chinatown, SingaporeMarkets are set up near the New Year especially for vendors to sell New Year-related products. These usually open-air markets feature floral products, toys, clothing, for shoppers to buy gifts for new year visitations as well as decor for their homes. The practice of shopping for the perfect plum tree is not dissimilar to the Western tradition of buying a Christmas tree.

Firecrackers come individually or strung on a long string. They are cased in red paper, as red is auspicious. The loud popping noise created by the explosion is thought to scare away evil spirits.

In Singapore, firecrackers have been banned due to safety reasons since 1972. However, in 2003, the government allowed firecrackers to be let off during the festive season. At the Chinese New Year light up in Chinatown, at the stroke of midnight on the first day of the Lunar New Year, firecrackers are let-off under controlled conditions by the Singapore Tourism Board. Other occasions where firecrackers are allowed to be let off are determined by the tourism board or other government organizations. However, they are not allowed to be commercially sold.

Malaysia banned firecrackers for the same reason. However, many Malaysians smuggle them illegally from other neighboring countries such as Thailand.

For 2007, New York City lifted its decade-old ban on firecrackers, allowing a display of 300,000 firecrackers to be set off in Chinatown's Chatham Square.

Fireworks are banned in Hong Kong for safety reasons, but the government will put on a fireworks display in Victoria Harbour on the second day of the Chinese New Year. Similar displays are also held in many other cities in and outside China.

Red clothing is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year, as red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. Also, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize starting anew in the new year.

Shou Sui

Shou Sui) is when members of the family gather around throughout the night after the reunion dinner and reminisce about the year that has passed while welcoming the year that has arrived. Some believe that children who (Shou Sui) will increase the longevity of the parents.

“一夜连双岁,五更分二年” means that the night of New Year's eve (which is also the morning of the first day of the New Year) is a night that links 2 years. (Wu Geng - a time period in Chinese time keeping roughly equivalent to 0300 - 0500 hrs) is the time that separates 2 years.

During these 15 days of the Chinese New Year one will see superstitious or traditional cultural beliefs with meanings which can be puzzling in the eyes of those who do not celebrate this occasion. There is a customary reason that explains why everything, not just limited to decorations, are centered on the color red. At times, gold is the accompanying color for reasons that are already obvious. One best and common example is the red diamond-shaped posters with the character (pinyin: fú), or "auspiciousness" are displayed around the house and at the fronts of doors. This sign is usually seen hung upside down, since the Chinese word(pinyin: dǎo), or "upside down", sounds similar as (pinyin: dào), or "arrive". Therefore, it symbolizes the arrival of luck, happiness, prosperity or all together.

The following are popular floral decorations for the New Year and are available at new year markets.

Floral Decor Meaning
Plum blossom symbolizes luck
Kumquat plants that symbolises prosperity
Narcissus flower
Chrysanthemum symbolises longevity
Bamboo A plant used for anytime of year

Icons and Ornamentals
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Icons Meaning
Fishs The Japanese Koi fish is usually seen in paintings. Decorated food depicting the fish can also be found. It symbolises surplus or having addition savings' so as to have more than enough to live throughout the remaining year. It coheres with the Chinese idiom (Pinyin: niánnián yŏuyú)
Yuanbao The Yuanbao symbolises money and/or wealth. In ancient China, the use of such gold and silver ingots were used as a common medium of exchange similar to bank notes in modern times.
Posters These posters are not advertisement posters. These posters generally intend to convey the New Year's greetings. Some are illustrated showing a boy and a girl dressed in a traditional Chinese custome with their hands held together meaning to show "Gong Xi! Gong Xi!". Others can be caligraphy posters in pairs where Chinese idioms will be written usually related to the festive season.
Lion dance While a popular invites for an opening of a business in Hong Kong, the Lion dance is also a common practice during Chinese New Year. It is believed that the loud beats of the drum and the deaftening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the Lion dancing aggresively can evict bad or evil spirits off the place.
Fortune gods elaborate on CaiShen, CaiMao, etc.


Niangao, Chinese New Year lucky cake: red bean paste between two layers of longane flavoured rice paste.Several foods are eaten to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune. Several of the Chinese food names are homophones for words that also mean good things.

Fish - Is usually eaten on the eve of Chinese New Year. The pronunciation of fish makes it a homophone for "more than enough", or "extra".
Nian gao - Popular in eastern China (Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai) because its pronunciation is a homophone for "a more prosperous year".
Dumplings (Jiaozi)- Eaten traditionally in northern China because the preparation is similar to packaging luck inside the dumpling, which is later eaten.
Kwatji/ sunflower, pumpkin or melon seeds, which, to some, ensures happiness in the new year
Turnip/Taro cakes

Superstitions during the New Year period
The following is a list of beliefs that vary according to dialect groups / individuals.

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.
Candy is 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.

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.
Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants" is a homophone for the word for "bitter" in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive, as the word 'pants' in Cantonese is also a homophone for the word for "wealth".)
A hair-cut is considered bad luck. The word "hair" is a homophone for the word for "prosperity". Thus "cutting hair" could be perceived as "cutting away your prosperity" in Cantonese.
Washing of your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although mostly hygenic 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".

New Year parades

In 1849, with the discovery of gold and the ensuing California Gold Rush, over 50,000 people had come to San Francisco to seek their fortune or just a better way of life. Among those were many Chinese, who had come to work in the gold mines and on the railroad. By the 1860’s, the Chinese were eager to share their culture with those who were unfamiliar with it. They chose to showcase their culture by using a favorite American tradition - the Parade. Nothing like it had ever been done in their native China. They invited a variety of other groups from the city to participate, and they marched down what today are Grant Avenue and Kearny Street carrying colorful flags, banners, lanterns, and drums and firecrackers to drive away evil spirits.

Today, Chinese New Year parades are annual traditions across North America in cities with significant Chinese populations. Among the cities with such parades are San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, and Vancouver, British Columbia. However, even smaller cities that are historically connected to Chinese immigration, such as Butte, Montana, have recently hosted parades.

The Chinese New Year is often accompanied by loud, enthusiastic greetings, often referred to as (Jíxiánghùa), or loosely translated as auspicious words or phrases. Some of the most common examples may include:

Happy new year
Simplified Chinese: Traditional Chinese; pinyin: Xīnnián kuàilè; Hokkien POJ: Sin-nî khòai-lo̍k; Cantonese: Sun nin fai lok. A more contemporary greeting reflective of western influences, it literally translates from the greeting "Happy new year" more common in the west. But in northern parts of China, traditionally people say Simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: Guo Nian Hao instead of Simplified Chinese: to differentiate it from the international new year. And can be used from the first day to the fifth day of Chinese new year.

Congratulations and be prosperous

Kung Hei Fat Choi at Lee Theatre Plaza, Hong KongSimplified Chinese; Traditional Chinese; pinyin: Gōngxǐ fācái; Hokkien Keong hee huat chye (POJ: Kiong-hí hoat-châi); Cantonese: Gung hei faat choi; Hakka: Kung hei fat choi, which loosely translates to "Congratulations and be prosperous". Often mistakenly assumed to be synonymous with "Happy new year", its usage dates back several centuries. While the first two words of this phrase had a much longer historical significance (legend has it that the congratulatory messages were traded for surviving the ravaging beast of Nian, although in practical terms it may also involve surviving the harsh winter conditions), the last two words were added later as ideas of capitalism and consumerism became more significant in Chinese societies around the world. The saying is now commonly heard in English speaking communities for greetings during Chinese New Year in parts of the world where there is a sizable Chinese-speaking community, including overseas Chinese communities that have been resident for several generations, relatively recent immigrants from Greater China, and those who are transit migrants (particularly students).

Greetings in Other Countries

Vietnam: Chúc mừng năm mới
Philippines: Manigong bagong taon
Thailand: Sawatdee pi maï
Korea: Sae hae bok manhi baduseyo
Japan: Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu

Other greetings
Numerous other greetings exist, some of which may be exclaimed out loud to no one in particular in specific situations. For example, as breaking objects during the new year is considered inauspicious, one may then say (Suìsuì píng'ān) immediately, which means everlasting peace year after year. (Suì, meaning "age") is homophonous with (meaning "shatter"), in demonstration of the Chinese love for wordplay in auspicious phrases. Similarly, (Niánnián yǒuyú), a wish for surpluses and bountiful harvests every year, plays on the word yú to also refer to(meaning fish), making it a catch phrase for fish-based Chinese new year dishes and for paintings or graphics of fish that are hung on walls or presented as gifts.

These greetings or phrases may also be used just before children receive their red packets, when gifts are exchanged, when visiting temples, or even when tossing the shredded ingredients of yusheng particularly popular in Malaysia and Singapore.

Irreverent children may jokingly use the phrase (Traditional Chinese: Simplified Chinese:(Mandarin PinYin: Gōngxǐ fācái, hóngbāo nálái) ( Cantonese: ), roughly translated as "Happy New Year, now give me a red envelope."

Back in the 1970's, children in Hong Kong rhymed ( Cantonese: ) roughly translated as "Happy New Year, now give me a red envelope, fifty cents is too little, don't want a dollar either." basically saying that they dispise small change - coins which were called "hard substance" ( Cantonese: 硬嘢) They were instead asking for "soft substance" ( Cantonese:) which was either a five dollar or a ten dollar bill.

Articles taken from Wikipedia


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