23    Jan 20090 comments

Welcome the Year of the Ox

Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival is the most important traditional Chinese holiday. It is not only celebrated in China but by Chinese communities and individuals all around the world. year of the ratBecause it is based on the lunar calender, the new year begins on varied dates from late January to mid-February. In 2009, Chinese new year falls on the 26th of January - the year of the Ox, year 4707 on the Chinese calendar.

The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year being represented by an animal. Those are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Dog and Pig. Depending on the year you are born, you are believed to have the various character traits of that years animal. The Ox in chinese zodiac implies hard-working, energetic and friendly.

So what do families do around Chinese New Year?

The festival starts on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar, and ends on the 15th. In China, normally a week before the New Year arrives, families will give their house a throughout clean which implies sweeping away any bad luck, repay debts and have their hair cut. Then decorate doors and windows with red accessories. Unlike Christmas, the Chinese celebrate the New Year's Eve rather than New Year's Day. The night is for families to gather together and spend the evening enjoy food and preparing Chinese dumplings which is a traditional food to eat on New Years Day, and it is called reunion meal. During the New Year season, certain foods are served because they symbolize good fortune and luck, such as orange and sticky cake.

First day of the new year begins from midnight and fireworks are very popular to scare off evil spirits. Traditionally, red envelopes with some lucky money in, are passed out during the celebration, usually varying from few hundreds to several thousands Yuan. However, the number 4 is avoided because the number is pronounced as death; the number 8 is considered very lucky. Markets are set up as New Year is approaching and will last two weeks. They are a good place to go with family and friends.

However, for Chinese who live abroad without families around, New Year celebrations are usually held by local communities, such as the China town association. In London, there will be entertainment from noon in Trafalgar Square and Chinatown. People will see dazzling dragon and lion dances and the best of traditional and contemporary Chinese arts, as well as traditional food.

MyHeritage wishes everyone many good blessings, and much prosperity this year!

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