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Tina Lai

The Global Gourmet

Global Wishes for a Happy New Year!
2008 The Year of the Rat

By Tina Lai, The Global Gourmet

It happens every year, the champagne corks pop, the ball in Time Square drops, the major t.v. stations take the overview of the events of the past year, and most of us are left nursing a terrific hangover the next day.

This ritual although ubiquitous in western societies can believe it or not, appear quite strange to most Easterners who celebrate the new year in a very different fashion.

What would you say if I told you that the first day of the New Year is not January 1st this year? The first day of the year is always different for the Chinese, as well as other Eastern Asians, Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, who follow the Lunar Calendar.

This year, the first day of the Chinese New Year, marked by the first full moon of the year is February 7th,2008. The year 2008, according to Chinese astrology is the Year of the Rat. The celebration of the New Year lasts for 15 days and is the most important holiday of the year for the Chinese. The the two week period of the New Year is a time for families to come together, observing traditional rituals and eating special symbolic foods.

The Lunar Calendar is an advent for the Chinese that were historically agricultural societies, with their lifes revolving around farming activities. The New Year coincides with the time which the land is most fertile and is thus also known as the Spring Rituals. Families will be busy preparing for receiving guests by thoroughly cleaning their houses and decorating with “lucky” symbols and flowers. Most Chinese will also receive new clothing and pay special attention to their personal grooming.

Olli and Tina Lai“Luck”, “Fertilitity”, and “Prosperity” are central themes to the Chinese Year celebration. Some of the ways that these theme are represented are:

Wearing the color red. Red is considered a lucky color.

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 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.

Children activities for learning about Chinese New Year.

For Chinese Calendar and Chinese Astrological Signs

Year of the Rat

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