Celebrating the Chinese New Year!

Fortune Cookie News would like to wish all of our readers a happy Chinese New Year! According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2008 is a Year of the Rat, which begins on February 7, 2008 and ends on January 25, 2009. First in the cycle of 12 Animal signs, Rat Year begins the sequence and recurs every twelfth year. It is a time of renewal in so many ways. Chinese New Year is called the Spring Festival in China, since it falls on the start of spring, and is the celebration of a fresh start of the year. China is fortunate to have its own rich and unique traditions that have endured millennia, the magnificence of which is still truly admired in China and some other Asian countries. There has been a long tradition, as well as a great variety of New Year activities to celebrate this most important festival in the Chinese calendar. Although the celebration ways can be varied in different regions of the country, they are all believed to bring people all the blessings and delights for the year ahead. People will put up New Year scrolls on both sides of the door; set off firecrackers to scare away evil spirits (though it’s illegal in many Chinese cities now, people in rural areas still keep the custom); buy new clothes for the whole family and enjoy the family union feast on the eve of the New Year—to name just a few of the customs. Here’s more you can do to celebrate Chinese New Year: 1. Clean up the house Select a day and clean up the house with the family (Cantonese usually do the cleaning on the 28th day of the twelfth lunar month). This ritual gets rid of bad luck in the ending year and welcomes in good luck in the New Year. 2. Get ready some red packets. Starting from the second day of the New Year, people began going out to visit friends and relatives, taking with them gifts and Lai-See (little red envelopes with good luck money wrapped in) for the children. Visitors would be greeted with traditional New Year delicacies, such as melon seeds, candied lotus roots, and Nian Gao— New Year cakes. 3. Decorate the house Hang Chinese New Year scrolls called spring couplets on both sides of the door to usher in good wishes for the New Year. Also, paste paper cuts of upside down good fortune "fu" characters, happy children and tangerine oranges on the wall. Floral presentation is also an important part of the decoration. Make sure you have vases of flowers in the house during Chinese New Year. They do more than just add a New Year atmosphere to the home. Chinese believe that living plants symbolize growth and flowers represent wealth and prosperity. 4. Prepare the reunion dinner Gather your family together for this most important and sumptuous meal of the year on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Prepare a meal with auspicious dishes like chicken, fish, oysters, dumplings, green vegetables and noodles. They have meanings of prosperity, longevity and abundance. 5. Pass the year After a hearty meal, stay up late to “pass the year” (guo nian), an ancient tradition. You can watch TV, play card games, or chat. After midnight (or on the morning of Chinese New Year's Day), give your children the red envelopes filled with money (called “lucky money”). 6. Send New Year greetings When the first day of Chinese New Year comes, people will visit friends, relatives and neighbors with wearing new clothes, (generally the wear red color, it symbolize happiness and luck), wishing them Happy New Year, good health and prosperity. Children will get red packets which contain money from adults, usually this festival is the happiest day of children, because they can get good foods, red packet and some things they like. Chinese people call this visit bai nian, and you should know some words about bai nian (pronounced in Mandarin): "Sing Nian Kuay Le" - Happy New Year. "Gong Xi Fa Cai" - Have a prosperous new year "Zu Ni Nian Nian You Yu" - Wishing you a abundant year