Gong Hai Fat Choy, Happy Chinese New Year!! As we have already left 2016 behind, we in Asia are ready for the next big change, leaving behind the year of the Monkey and entering the year of the Rooster.
I really love Chinese New Year (CNY). In the Western culture, after you end the holidays season of Christmas and New Year, most people find the next few months a bit dreary. Not us in Asia! CNY is the largest celebrated holiday in Hong Kong, and the city is vibrant and fully decorated with lights, cherry blossom trees, orange bushes, and red decorations.
So here is your short history lesson for the day… Firstly, the zodiac calendar is not just something that is printed on the paper place mats that appear in Chinese-American restaurants in the US. The Chinese zodiac is an important factor to Chinese culture. The zodiac signs are used in old stories and folklore. There are twelve animals that are matched to a 12 year cycle. Each animal has different personalities and traits associated. Millions of people, even today, believe the predictions and superstitions that are described with the zodiac. Some people even base their relationships according to the zodiac.
Year of the Fire Rooster
You are considered a Rooster if you were born in the following years: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005. Here is your quick guide to all you need to know to survive the upcoming year:
Even furthering your Zodiac analysis, there are different elements (Gold, Wood, Fire, Water, or Earth) associated with different years, which matches up to different personality traits. 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster, characterizing those born in this year (or 1957) are trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work.
Red Pockets, aka Lai See
In China, the color red is beloved. It’s a symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. Over the CNY season, it’s tradition to gift a red pocket, or lai see in Cantonese, which is a red envelope filled with money, to those that are close to you or do services to you as a way to say thanks and wish them luck over the upcoming year.
There is of course, a traditional way to gift Lai See. Just before the CNY, banks start to print fresh bills for the upcoming year. It’s important to go to the bank (best to avoid going during lunch hour to avoid massive queues) to get freshly printed bills to put in the red envelopes. It’s important the bills you hand out are new without any creases in them. It’s a big no-no to give out any denomination with the number 4 in it, as the number 4 in Chinese sounds like the verb “to die” and symbolizes death. It’s also important to always give or receive red pockets with both hands as a sign of respect.