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Image credit: smallandround from Flickr

Chinese New Year 2010

Image credit: smallandround from Flickr

Photo credit: smallandround from Flickr

Growing up in a multi-ethnic and -racial household meant eating as much sauerkraut as I did, um, “phoenix talons” (a.k.a. chicken feet). Hey, don’t knock it until you try it. Or maybe just file this one away as TMI.

One of the big events during my childhood was always  Chinese New Year. This year the date happens to coincide with Valentine’s Day and it’s also heralding the Year of the Tiger (my year!). It’s a time for gathering with family and friends. All big celebrations in my household always included lots of food.

Chinese culture is full of symbolism and superstition, some of which I’d like to share.

The colour red is associated with the festivities because it’s believed it will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.

One of the many traditions at the heart of the occasion is the handing over of red “lai see” or “lucky money” envelopes to unmarried friends and family members. The newer the money, so it goes, the better the luck it will bring. Tian Phat and other Asian grocery stores carry these in ample supply at this time of year.

Houses are cleaned thoroughly before the New Year. Windows are left open to let in good fortune and lights left on at night to frighten away demons. All sharp objects are put out of view so as not to cut the flow of good energy.

A bounty of food is served to reflect the prosperity of the year to come including sweets and goodies to ensure the sweetness of the year ahead. One of the dishes we always had for this and most special occasions was uncut noodles, which represent longevity and long life. Cutting the noodles is therefore a very bad omen.

Everyone says “Kung Hei Fat Choi!” which translates roughly as “Congratulations and be prosperous!”

Here’s a description of my sign (they vary depending on year and elemental cycle). This is the most flattering one I could dig up because it doesn’t mention any of the negative attributes like having a very short fuse.

Passion and creativity are the hallmarks of the Wood Tiger. What a great sign for the performing arts or any career that puts you in front of the public where you can use your creative ability and, or, leadership skills. You are the most mellow of Tigers and therefore not so domineering. You tend to be very popular, especially since you are probably charismatic.

So, I hope you enjoy this weekend by eating some dim sum with friends and family or by having a romantic dinner at a Chinese restaurant to celebrate both the new year and Valentine’s! All the best for the year ahead.

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