Monday, February 19, 2007

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Happy Lunar New Year!

The title of this post roughly translates into congratulations and be prosperous. It's a common saying heard here this time of year.

It's been very festive here this past week. Fireworks have been going off steadily for the past few days and people seem to be especially cheerful. This is the year of the pig. As many of you already know, Chinese zodiac is based on a 12 year cycle. If you are turning 12, 24, 36, etc. this year, you are a Those born in the year of the pig are usually honest, loyal, and straightforward. At the same time, they are usually selfish, spoiled, unhealthy, and pushy. Yikes, a tough combination.

Some of the practices/superstitions this time of year are interesting.

It's considered very bad luck to get your hair cut this month because the word hair is a homophone for prosperity in Chinese. Therefore, you will be cutting away your prosperity. Sweeping the floor in your home is a no-no because it is believed that you will be sweeping away all your good luck for the following year.

It's a good idea to leave your windows open this week to bring in good luck for the coming year. Candy is eaten this week to ensure a sweet year. Cleaning thoroughly prior to the holiday is a good idea. It's frowned upon to clean your house for the few days after the holiday.

Of all of the traditions here, I am especially fond of the giving of red envelopes. Red envelopes stuffed with cash are given by parents to their single children and by business owners to their employees. Good Stuff! The cash is believed to be a tool to suppress possible evil spirits in the coming year. I don't know much about evil spirits but I dig the extra cash!

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