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Today, February 14th, is not just Valentine's Day, but also the first day of the Chinese or Lunar New Year - the longest and most important of all traditional Chinese Festivals.
To commemorate the new year, Chinese people clean their homes, buy and wear red clothes, hang red lanterns and scrolls and ignite firecrackers - all to ward off bad luck and keep evil spirits at bay.
Another tradition is to hang chun lian, or spring couplets, which extol happy and hopeful messages about the future. However, the most favorite, is the tradition of elders giving the younger people red envelopes, filled with money.
You can't describe a holiday without discussing the delicious food. A Chinese New Year meal is a veritable feast, where each item has a special meaning. Long uncut noodles represent a long life, while the whole chicken is a symbol of family togetherness. Dumplings (resemble ingots, an ancient Chinese currency) and spring rolls (which look like gold bars), represent wealth and prosperity.
Also, according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, which includes anyone born in 1902,1914,1926,1938,1950,1962,1974,1986,1998 and 2010.
People born under this sign are smart, ambitious and natural born leaders. They are very friendly and take great pride in being different from others, often by accumulating exotic things. They are quite generous with their money, since they are sure they can always make more!
Eleven other animals make up the Chinese Zodiac - the first one being the rat. While there are many legends about how the lowly rodent made it to the top, this is the most popular and fun!
Many centuries ago, the Jade Emperor decided to name the years so it would be easier for people to keep track of them. To give every animal a fair shot, he organized a 'swimming' race. The cat and rat who were poor swimmers worried about how they would get across the water. They finally convinced the mighty ox to give them a ride. However, just before they reached the shore, the crafty rat pushed the cat into water, nimbly jumped off the ox's back, and was proclaimed the winner! Just shows that using a few white cells can get you ahead in any situation!
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy New Year!
sources : wikipedia.org, chinapage.com, dragonlady.com,