The Chinese New Year is upon us again – where´s Januay gone? I am looking forward to joining the celebrations in London tomorrow. People seem to be taking a greater interest in everything Chinese these days, no doubt aided by their economic expansion as part of the so-called BRIC economies. So, there are now more and more articles on the peculiarities of their culture.
I have been reading about the Chinese New Year to help me prepare and better understand the activities that I´m seeing tomorrow, 10th February in London´s Chinatown. Here are some fun facts.
- Chinese New Year goes by the lunar calendar, so it falls on a different day every year. Next year, it´ll be on 31st January.
- It´s origin is to do with harvest, just like so many other celebrations across cultures.
- The politically correct name is now Lunar New Year in recognition to other cultures that observe that calendar too.
- Have you cleaned your house yet? If not, go and remove any traces of `bad luck´ before the New Year. Something like `spring cleaning´, but during this freezing February.
If you do so afterwards, you might end up removing any good luck the New Year might bring.
- Red is the colour. The Chinese consider red as the luckiest colour.
- Younger members of the family receive money on red envelopes, pretty much as in that HSBC TV commercial which they have cleverly run again this year.
- Number four is avoided, as the letters closely resemble the Chinese for `death´. Spooky!
- Chinese place a big emphasis on food symbology.
Bamboo shoots = wealth
Black moss seaweed = wealth
Dried Bean Curd = happiness (note: fresh tofu is not served because the color white symbolizes death and misfortune in Chinese culture).
Chicken = happiness and marriage (especially when served with ”dragon foods,” such as lobster), family reunion (if served whole)
Eggs = fertility
Egg Rolls = wealth
Fish served whole = prosperity
Chinese garlic chives = everlasting, a long life
Lychee nuts = close family ties
Noodles = A long life
Oranges = wealth
Peanuts = a long life
Pomelo = abundance, prosperity, having children
Seeds = lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc. – having a large number of children
Tangerines = luck
- Chinese say `Congratulations and be prosperous´ to each other to celebrate the New Year.
So, congratulations and be prosperous during the year of the snake!