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Chinese New Year is coming... prepare to wear RED and celebrate on Monday, Feb 8th.
The New Year is approaching! And even if you have only just sobered up after the most recent New Year celebrations, this Chinese version needs a bit more of your attention. But what exactly does it mean? For Chinese people this is the most important holiday of the year.
Monday 8 February is the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. Unlike the Christian New Year, its based on a 'luni-sola' calendar which combines the moon phase and the solar year.
lunar month is around two days shorter than a solar month? Therefore, in order to catch up with the solar calendar, the Chinese year has to insert an extra month every few years. So, unlike the traditional New Year here in the UK, which can be expected to fall reliably on January 1, the Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year. And this year the event happens on MONDAY, 8 FEBRUARY! Did you know that a
the Buddha (the most enlightened person), asked all the animals to meet him on the Chinese New Year. Legend has it that
12 animals turned up to the meeting and therefore Buddha named a year after each one. The story goes that each person born in the year of a particular animal would inherit some of that animal's characteristics and personality.
What year begins on 8 February? It's the year of the MONKEY! Those born under this sign could well be intelligent, witty and inventive. They are good at solving problems, excellent group-members and high achievers. But they are also playful and youthful, with lots of energy. Monkeys are tricksters too, and they can be opportunistic and perhaps a little untrustworthy. Maybe unfaithful.
monkey puzzle tree! Who do we know that are born in a year of the monkey? Leonardo da Vinci; Pope John Paul II; Harry S Truman; Eleanor Roosevelt; Mick Jagger; Bette Davis; Charles Dickens; Joe Cocker; Diana Ross and Mel Gibson. Elizabeth Taylor and Sylvia Plath were all monkeys. Celebrate MONKEYS! With a
Araucaria araucana (the monkey puzzle) so called? It is thought that the tree possibly gained its name because it would pose such a puzzle for monkeys to climb. This evergreen has razor-sharp spines. It can grow to 50m tall and live for over 1,000 years! It's one of the most commonly mis-placed trees as many people plant it too close to their house, not realising what a giant it can become. Why is
How to celebrate Chinese New Year? The traditional celebrations involve wearing red clothes. Red paper is decorated with meaningful poems and given to children together with lucky money in red envelopes.
Lucky bamboo is a traditional symbol of Chinese good luck and is now available in handy household designs. It is used in Feng Shui and can be placed to aid the flow of good luck around a home. Red symbolises 'fire' which can drive away bad luck. There will be fireworks representing the ancient tradition of lighting bamboo stalks. The red and orange crackling fire will frighten away evil spirits.
Lucky bamboo towers, twists and spirals make a wonderful addition to any room and they also make a great talking point. Architectural beauty as well as luck what more could you wish for? The number of stems is important too. The more stalks you have within your Lucky Bamboo arrangement, the more luck it will attract! What's more, it's simple to look after. Lucky Bamboo likes to be placed out of direct sunlight and needs fresh water at least every two weeks. Mineral water or filtered water is best. It will last for years on just plain water alone. This isn't bamboo that pandas like to eat its a bonsai version that will be happy to stall small and neat.
Then there are Chinese lanterns. They are lit at family reunions where shared meals are enjoyed particularly a feast on New Year's Eve. There's a Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month when home-made lanterns are painted with birds, animals, flowers and scenes from history. Parades of lanterns in the moonlight are part of the festivities.
Not forgetting the Dance of the Dragons. The festival dragon is usually made of silk, paper and bamboo and it is held high by young people who dance as they guide it through the streets. There will be marching bands and floats to accompany this most important of Chinese symbols.
What's not to love about Chinese New Year? It's a time of celebration of life, of family and of hope for the year to come.