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Monday, February 15, 2010

GONG XI FA CAI Greetings From BT

Chinese all over the world will be engaged in a wide variety of traditional customs and practices, from eating spring rolls that look like gold bars to giving money in red envelopes to children and bags of tangerines to adults - in celebration of the Lunar New Year, the most significant event in Chinese culture.

Chinese New year starts on the first day of the new moon and ends with the Lantern Festival 14 days later. In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, between January 21 and February 21. This year Chinese New Year falls on Feb 14.

In China, schools and businesses will shut down for at least a week. While that doesn't happen in Malaysia, the Lunar New Year holiday is still treated as a major event.

The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the twelve years after an animal.

Legend has it that the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth. Only 12 came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on his or her personality

The year 2010 is that of the Tiger, the third sign in the Chinese Zodiac cycle. The symbol of strength, adventure, courage and prosperity, the Chinese believe the sign keeps away the three main tragedies of a household-fire, thieves and ghosts.

Tigers are physically powerful, gracious, independent and extremely bold animals. Individuals born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger, often referred to simply as Tiger people can be friendly and loving but also selfish and short-tempered. As natural leaders, they love to be the centre of attention.

Symbolism is prevalent during these celebrations. Traditional food, decorations and activities take more significant purposes and meanings.

Tangerines and oranges, for example, are symbols of prosperity and abundant happiness. For newlyweds, the same fruit with small leaves attached can mean children are on the way.

Arranged in a circle or octagon tray, each piece of candy on the 'tray of togetherness' represents a different kind of good fortune. A candied melon means growth and good health; a red melon seed, joy, happiness, truth and sincerity; a lychee nut, strong family relationships; a kumquat, prosperity or gold.

The eve of the New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of the event, as anticipation creeps in. Here, traditions and rituals are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing.

Irrespective of the diverse customs across China and Chinese communities living in other parts of the world, the underlying message is one of peace and happiness for family members and friends.

It is usual to wear something red as this colour is meant to ward off evil spirits.

On the day itself, Chinese families trade the ubiquitous greeting 'Gong Xi Fa Cai' which means 'congratulations and be prosperous' with one another and with their neighbours and friends.

Like the Western saying 'let bygones be bygones', at Chinese New Year, grudges are very easily cast aside.

An ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes.

The 15th Day, called the Festival of Lanterns or Chap Goh Meh, marks the end of the celebrations when Chinese welcome in the first full moon of the lunar new year. It is celebrated with a special feast and servings of 'Tang Yuen', round rice dumplings symbolic of the full moon, cooked in sweet soup.

February 14, 2010 - February 2, 2011

People born in the Year of the Tiger:
- can be extremely short-tempered
- are suspicious of others
- are bold and adventurous
- sensitive, emotional, and capable of great love
- have initiative and charm
- have a tendency to be risk takers
- act before they think about the consequences
- make good bosses, explorers or racing drivers


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