The oldest and most important festival in China is the Spring Festival. Better known as the Chinese New Year, it is a time for celebration for millions of Chinese all over the world. The Spring Festival celebrates the Earth coming to life and the beginning of plowing and planting.
The Chinese use a calendar which places the festival on the first lunar day of the first lunar month. Thus, the date of the Spring Festival changes each year. The new year in the 12-year cycle Chinese calendar is the Year of the Metal Tiger, beginning February 14, 2010.
The Chinese New Year is much more than lion dances and firecrackers although these traditions are integral to the celebration. In essence, New Year is spending more time with family, gift giving, and food festivals. The festivities last 15 days and businesses and factories usually take about a week off.
To prepare for the New Year, the Chinese clean their homes, repay money they owe, get their hair cut and buy new clothes, and offer prayers to their ancestors and to their gods. They decorate their homes with signs that wish peace and luck for the coming year. On the day itself, homes are lighted and families gather for a dinner with special dishes, stay up late, and set off firecrackers to scare away any evil spirits.
Manila’s Chinatown, like Chinatowns elsewhere in the world, has colorful parades that wind around the district, capped with the Lantern Festival on the night of the first full moon which marks the end of the Chinese New Year holiday period. Good-luck items for sale abound, together with other items that have become synonymous with Chinese New Year celebration. Eating noodles is traditional and is believed to ensure long life.
People born in the Year of the Tiger are said to be intelligent, alert, courageous, honest, lucky, intense, lively, and engaging. Colorful and unpredictable, their energy and love for life are stimulating.
They are optimists who always bounce back for new and fresh challenges. Known for their ability in influencing others and swaying crowds, those born in the Year of the Tiger love life and want to live it to the fullest.
It would be a great year if people could take in the good characteristics of the Tiger who pursues life with unyielding energy. With a tiger mind for this Year of the Metal Tiger, our actions could bear fruit and make it easier for us to achieve our goals for the year 2010.
Happy Chinese New Year to one and all!
Xin Nian Kuai Le 新年快乐
Gung Hoi Fat Choi