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Gung Hey Fat Choy-2008 Year of the Rat Part 2

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The Lunar New Year is the most significant festival for ethnic Chinese around the world, wherever they come from. It is a very jubilant occasion mainly because it is the time when people take a break from work to get together with family and friends.

For children, the most exciting part of the holiday comes when they receive their hong bao ¬õ¥], red envelopes full of cash. (Photo by Huang Chung-hsin)

I was Director of a Chinese company,SPI (offices in Taipei, Shenzchen, Hong Kong, Shanghai and San Francisco) for 6 years. I learned a great deal about the Chinese culture and traditions from my boss, Carl Chen who is from Taiwan and also on my numerous trips to Taiwan, Hong Kong and various regions of Mainland China.

Chinese New Year's festivities were always a highlight of the year. I especially looked forward to the little red and cold wrappers conatining money from my boss!


Giving Hongbao (red packets) during the Chinese New Year is a good luck tradition. A red packet is simply a red envelope with gift money in it. Married adults and the elderly give these hong bao to children and unmarried young people during Chinese New Year as an act of well wishing and blessing. Also many times a boss will give these Hongbao to his employees.

Some examples of contemporary red envelopesChinese:利是 or 利事Literal meaning:profitable deed

The sum to be placed in the red packet should be in an even figure. The sum is never an odd amount as this is considered bad luck.During this Chinese New Years Festival many will go out to street markets and eat.Chilli/chile pork

Many Dragon Dances in parks and streets for warding off evil

Dueling Dragons

The Chinese New eYar's Parades are quite elaborate

Touching the dragon is good luck

Beautiful girls of all ages are in the parade whether it rains or not here in San Francisco

Everyone wears red for good luck


New Year's offerings

One of the most spectacular sights during the Lunar New Year Festival is the dragon and lion dance. The heads of these fearsome beasts are supposed to ward off evil, and the nimble movements of the dancers provide a grand spectacle enjoyable to everyone.

Fireworks-is always a huge part of New Year's celebration. It is so loud and the smoke chokes you for hours.

Chaos of downtown Dalian fireworks, larger cities are far more organizxzed, but in small rural areas the Chinese go crazy with the fireworks. It sounds like a war!

Bamboo stems filled with gunpowder that were burnt to create small explosions were once used in ancient China to drive away evil spirits. In modern times, this method has eventually evolved into the use of firecrackers during the festive season.

Firecrackers are usually strung on a long fused string so it can be hung down. Each firecracker is rolled up in red papers, as red is auspicious, with gun powders in its core. Once ignited, the firecracker lets out a loud popping noise and as they are usually strung together by the hundreds, the firecrackers are known for its deafening explosions that it is thought to scare away evil spirits. The lighting of firecrackers also signifies a joyous occasion and has become an integral aspect of Chinese New Year celebrations.

Although firecrackers are outlawed here in California even the San Francisco police ignore much of the firecrackers going off for Chinese New Year's.

The Chinese New Year's Day Parade!!!!!


Year of the pig New Year's Parade

Good luck

Everything for sale to bring you good luck! Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year. Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year. Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year. It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, as explained below, cleaning the house after New Year's Day is frowned upon) Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the year to come. Asians will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity. Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you. The night before the new year, bathe yourself in pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the new year. Bad luck Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in Cantonese, or "evil" in Mandarin. Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants"(kù) is a homophone for the word for "bitter"(kŭ) in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive, as the word 'pants'(fu) in Cantonese is also a homophone for the word for "wealth".) Washing your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although modern hygienic concerns take precedence over this tradition) Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year. Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious as well. Buying books is bad luck because the word for "book" is a homonym to the word "lose". Avoid clothes in black and white, as black is a symbol of bad luck, and white is a traditional funeral colour.


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Gung Hey Fat Choy-2008 Year Of The Rat Part 2