Happy Chinese New Year - January 23, 2012
2012 is the year of the Dragon
I am a dragon baby!
There is so much information on this holiday it would take me days to create a proper blog on the subject. Instead, I pulled out some fun facts I thought you might enjoy reading and added a few photos I have taken over the past week.
Chinese New Year marks the end of the winter season and is a two week long celebration. It is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Singapore. D gets off two days of work for this holiday. It is celebrated big here in Singapore, they even decorate the streets with outdoor lights.
On Chinese New Year's Eve, the Chinese families gather for a big dinner celebration. There are many special foods they eat, including a whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance, and a chicken for prosperity. The chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness.
And the special cookies they sell during this period – oh are they delicious. We have had pineapple, pumpkin seed, and pea. The pea was our very favorite. They are very tiny, slightly smaller than a quarter, so you can eat lots of them!
There are also special cakes to be eaten on New Year's Day. I bought one, but we have not tasted it yet. It is small - about 3 inches across and is wrapped in banana leaves.
Your entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, all cleaning equipment is put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.
There are beautiful decorations to display in your home, most are the color red. Flowers are also popular and platters of oranges and tangerines, and candy trays. I tried to incorporate several of the traditions into our new apartment, like the hanging pagota below.
Every household should also have live blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. I selected orchids to display.
It is proper etiquette to bring two mandarin oranges when visiting family or friends anytime during the two-week long Chinese New Year celebration.
On this day everyone must refrain from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. The word "four" in Chinese sounds like the word for death and is never spoken on this day. Death and dying are also never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo.
References to the past year are also avoided, as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.
If you cry on New Year's Day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are not spanked, even if they misbehave. Children also receive money in red paper envelopes.
On New Year's Day, you are not supposed to wash your hair because you will have washed away good luck for the New Year. Red clothing is preferred during this festive occasion. Red is considered a bright, happy color, sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future.
It is a lucky sign to see or hear songbirds (below) or red-colored birds or swallows on New Year’s Day.
Do not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.
The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone. So to partake in this holiday from afar - I suggest you forgive one person today! and don't use sissors : )