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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Chinese New Year (CNY): Year Of The Boar & other stories

It's that time again...time of the year that Chinese all look forward too ~ Chinese New Year!
This coming year's the Year of the Golden Boar (Pig)! A lot of couples are planning to give birth this coming year, marriages are encouraged also --> it's the last auspicious year for Horses to get married since the next year is the Rat and it's not an ideal year for Horses...to think, my brother is Year of the Rat - and we get along very well...or so we think! :P

Here's some things that I love about this holiday:

  • Red Packets - Traditionally, red packets (Mandarin: 'hóng bāo' (紅包); Hokkien: 'ang pow' (POJ: âng-pau); Hakka: 'fung bao'; Cantonese: 'leih síh' (利市)) are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is common for adults to give red packets to children. Red packets are also known as 压岁钱 (Ya Sui Qian lit age suppressing money) during this period.
    The red envelopes always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. The amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals (白金 : Bai Jin)
  • HK Victoria Park's New Year Markets - Markets are set up near the New Year especially for vendors to sell New Year-related products. These usually open-air markets feature floral products, toys, clothing, for shoppers to buy gifts for new year visitations as well as decor for their homes. The practice of shopping for the perfect plum tree is not dissimilar to the Western tradition of buying a Christmas tree. In Victoria Park...they basically sell everything and anything they can. This market is right at the park and is open 24/7 - for only one week. I hope to be able to visit this market with my good friend, Zita, next week - before I head back home.
  • Fireworks - These are banned in Hong Kong for safety reasons, but the government will put on a fireworks display in Victoria Harbour on the second day of the Chinese New Year.

  • Clothing - Red clothing is worn throughout the Chinese New Year, as red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. Also, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize starting anew in the new year. I've been assigned to find some new red clothing for my nephew here but so far...been running around like a headless-chicken around HK and still not finding one for my cutie nephew!

  • Decorations - Red banners with the character 福 (pinyin: fú), or "auspiciousness" are displayed around the house and at the fronts of doors. This sign is usually seen hung upside down, since the Chinese word 倒 (pinyin: dao), or "upside down", sounds similar as 到 (pinyin: dào), or "arrive". Therefore, it symbolizes the arrival of luck or happiness.
    The following are popular floral decorations for the New Year and are available at new year markets.
    Peach blossom (symbolises luck)
    Plum Blossom (symbolizes luck)
    Kumquat plants (symbolises prosperity)
    Narcissus
    Chrysanthemum (symbolises longevity)
    Bamboo (A plant used for anytime of year)

  • Foods - Niangao, Chinese New Year lucky cake: red bean paste between two layers of longane flavoured rice paste. Several foods are eaten to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune. Several of the Chinese food names are homophones for words that also mean good things.
    Fish - Is usually eaten on the eve of Chinese New Year. The Cantonese pronunciation of fish makes it a homophone for "more than enough", or "extra".
    Dumplings - Eaten traditionally because the preparation is similar to packaging luck inside the dumpling, which is later eaten.
    Candy
    Kwatji/ sunflower, pumpkin or melon seeds
    Turnip/Taro cakes

Some superstitions during the New Year period that I know about:

  • Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in Cantonese.

  • Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants" is a homophone for the word for "bitter" in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive as the word 'pants' in Cantonese could be a homophone for the word for "wealth".)

  • A hair-cut is considered bad luck. The word "hair" is a homophone for the word for "prosperity". Thus "cutting hair" could be perceived as "cutting away your prosperity" in Cantonese.

  • Candy is eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.

  • Sweeping the floor is considered bad luck, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year; in the same way that having a bath will wash away the good fortune.
    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 it is a homonym to the word "lose".

  • 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.

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Kit Name: Be My Love (DigizinesDigitalDen)
Kit Designer: Teri Hanson
Kit Link: http://digizinesdigitalden.com/osCommerce/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=11&products_id=108
Program: PS7.0
Note: This is a submission to the Sketch Challenge done by Deborah Vessels for Digizines Digital Den. A more recent photos of E & I at a cousin's wedding last month. It's currently my favorite. :)


Title: Happiness
Kit Name: In Love (available at DigizineDigitalDen)
Kit Designer: Teri Hanson
Kit Link: http://digizinesdigitalden.com/osCommerce/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=11&products_id=86
Program: PS7.0
Font: Copperplate Gothic
Journaling: Happiness is being near you
Notes: A very Vday inspiration for me - in appreciation on how Fate has brought E and I together in the end of a lot of failed relationships along the way.

3 comments:

malou said...

Love the 2nd digi lo bcoz' it has my favorite hearts and the colors you have used are just perfect! Thanks, for sharing w/us about the chinese new year coz' I don't know too much about it but I so much appreciate other cultures, also!

Valerie said...

Love the pages!! And I loved all the info on Chinese New Year, it was so cool to learn!! We're celebrating at school with the kids, just having a little mini party with some treats!! We even made a cute little banner if I remember I will try to remember to post a pic on my blog!!

Dawn said...

Hi Cheryl... love reading about your traditions, I come here and you educate me too :) superstitions (I'm a little superstitious! - I'd be OK to eat the candy)... gorgeous LO's too xx