On February 7, 2008 celebrations and festivals across the United States, Canada and Southeast Asia, will be ringing in the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rat. For the next 15 days, festivals, parades, family reunions, festive foods, traditional Dragon and Lion Dances, pounding Asian drums and blazes of fireworks will be a part of the colorful tradition and superstition-rich holiday season – haled the most important celebration of the Chinese or Lunar Calendar.
Beginning on the new moon and ending on the full moon, it’s a time for families to reunite and celebrate, perform rituals for good luck and good fortune, and honor ancestors with offerings of food and prayer.
Before the celebrations begin, Chinese households are given a clean sweep, to wipe away bad luck and leave room for a new wave of good luck to enter the home. To keep their Feng Shui truly fresh, many also give their front door a fresh coat of red paint. During the 15 days of Chinese New Year, red flags and decorations will embellish homes and businesses to scare away evil as the color red symbolizes good fortune. Colorful gold ornamentation symbolizes prosperity. Traditional meatless meals of fish and dumplings, which also signify good fortune are served. And among the countless symbolic traditions of the holiday, children are given red packets filled with money to protect them from evil.
Check your local listings for Chinese New Year festivities in your area – you’ll find them centered around ethnic Chinese communities across the country – or bring some of the blessings of the holiday season into your life, with these Chinese traditions of family, thanksgiving and renewal:
– Hang red and gold ribbons here and there to bring luck into your life.
– Do a thorough cleaning of your home to give yourself a sense of starting fresh.
– Invite your family and friends over for anything from cocktails and Chinese take out, to a homemade Asian inspired feast. Wear red or gold to encourage good luck
– Learn more about your Chinese birth sign and the meaning of the Year of the Rat. This symbol means the upcoming year will be about charm, wealth and energy mixed with conflict!
– Get a new set of clothes and a new haircut to symbolize a new beginning in keeping with the Chinese tradition.
Most importantly during this Lunar New Year, give yourself a chance to re-examine your dreams or resolutions and review how well your journey has gone so far in 2008.
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