Sunday, February 7, 2016

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Happy Chinese New Year-The Year of the Monkey begins on February 8 and lasts until Jan. 27, 2017
People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterised as lively, quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous, but it is also believed to be one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese calendar. The general image of people in this zodiac sign is of always being smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth.
Taboos, traditions and superstitions dominate the auspicious time. If you want to ensure you have a lucky, prosperous year, here's a list of what to do and what not to do.
1. Clean the house thoroughly on Sunday, New Year's Eve. A clean home means sweeping away any misfortunes to make room for a fresh, ordered start to the New Year.
2. Look out if you're a monkey. According to Chinese philosophy, those born with the same zodiac sign as the year's designated animal are going to have a particularly difficult year. Those born in the Year of the Monkey – 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 and 2004 – are urged to lie low.
3. Decorate your home with red lanterns and the "Fu" or luck character.
Come together as a family, travelling home to relatives, especially for a reunion dinner on New Year's Eve, celebrating togetherness.
4. Eat fish, which is essential to the reunion feast. The words for carp sound like "good luck" and "gift". Place the head in the direction of the most distinguished or oldest guest, who eats first, then utter the lucky saying "Niannian you yu". Spring rolls resemble gold bars. Tangerines stand for success and pomelos bring wealth. Celery (for wisdom), plums (for a sharp mind), chicken (with the head and feet attached), steamed buns (piled high), lettuce (for being alive) and sweets (for a sweet year) are also customary. Dumplings, or "jiaozi", resemble old Chinese currency, while long noodles and peaches symbolise longevity. "Niangao" or steamed rice cakes, are a southern delicacy, "gao" meaning "high", as in to make better or improve.
5. Paste spring festival couplets around your front door, calling for blessings on the home and land. Written on red paper in black or gold calligraphy, the scrolls must have parallel structures and antithetical meanings, such as: "丹凤呈祥龙献瑞 Dragon and phoenix bring the prosperity / 红桃贺岁杏迎春 Peach and apricot blossoms welcome the spring / 福满人间 Blessing on the Land".
6. Wear new clothes. Out with the old, in with the new – particularly if they are bright, happy colours. Red symbolises prosperity, so monkeys are advised to wear red to up their good fortune quotients.
7. Give red envelopes, or "hongbao" filled with coins and notes.
8. Set off firecrackers to drive away evil spirits.
9. Move slippers and shoes indoors before going to bed, to protect them from the thieving hands of evil spirits.
1. Use sharp objects in the three days or so of the New Year.
2. Buy, give or do four of anything. The word for four has the misfortune of sounding like the word for death.
3. Wear white or black, which are traditional colours of mourning.
4. Eat congee or rice porridge on New Year morning. It symbolises poverty.
5. Buy new shoes until after day 15 so as to avoid rough seas in the year ahead.
6. Give sharp objects, scissors and knives as presents. In fact, gift no-nos extend well beyond things that cut, to include shoes, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, clocks, pears, cut flowers, black or 
white objects or mirrors.
7. Sweep the house on New Year's Day, so as to avoid sweeping away good fortune.
8. Swear and use foul or negative language or talk about death, ghosts and the past year. Now is a time to be positive and look ahead, not at times gone by.
9. Take medicine or break any household objects over the holiday. Illness or harm done during the festive season are believed to cast negativity on the year ahead.
10. Wake family up or use their name to wake them on New Year's Day for fear of rendering them bedridden and lazy all year.
11. Wash hair or visit the hairdresser, so as to not wash or trim all that freshly accumulated luck away.

Well now that you have had Chinese 101 to get off on a good start for the New Year how 
about a reading list. Here are some of the top picks from
Weekend Links: Happy Chinese New Year with Great Kidlit Books

and 24 Year of the Monkey kid friendly crafts.
This week's recipes from Ever Ready will focus on celebrating the Chinese New Year  

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