This 14th February don’t just celebrate Valentines Day but the Chinese New Year as well. Instead of giving boxes of chocolates to loved ones maybe you could say Kung Hei Fat Choy or Gong Xi Fa Cai (Happy New Year in Cantonese or Mandarin). And if you are good in the kitchen you could make a typical Chinese New Year cake called Nian Gao (Sticky Cake or Steamed Chinese Fruitcake), which is very tasty and filled with an assortment of dried fruits.
Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and is the most important holiday for Chinese people. It’s traditionally spent with the family, eating and gift giving. Unlike Western celebrations there’s not much alcohol involved but there are lots of fireworks. The end of Chinese New year is celebrated by a Lantern Festival and fireworks.
If you are in Hong Kong firework displays will take place on Monday, 15 February 2010, at 8:00 p.m. in the Tsimshatsui area.
If you are in London the fireworks will take place on Sunday, 21st February at Trafalgar Square.
If you are in New York, you’ll see fireworks on Sunday, 14th February at the Sara D Roosevelt Park
The Chinese don’t have much paid holiday from work – usually just two weeks in a year – but one week is often taken off for the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and another in October for the National Day Celebrations. If you decide to go to China, try to avoid both of these dates as the most of the country will be closed, train and planes overbooked and most sights overcrowded!
The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year and so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year – like Easter in the west, which is on a different date every year. The Chinese years are arranged in groups of 12, each symbolized by a different sign. The story is that Buddha invited all the animals to celebrate a New Year with him, but only 12 turned up and as a reward Buddha decided to name each year after the animals that turned up – the first to arrive was a Rat, followed by an Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and finally, a Pig.
This year, 2010, is the year of the tiger, as were these years – 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998. If you were born in any Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese you are a sensitive, deep thinker, capable of great sympathy but also short-tempered.
If there are any firework displays for the Chinese New Year in your town or city, please let me know by emailing snake at Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com