The Year of the Ox

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快樂! (xīn nián kuài lè) Congratulations and may you have a prosperous year. 恭喜發財. (gōng xǐ fā cái)

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, starts on January 26, 2009 and ends on February 14, 2010. Koreans, other countries with significant Chinese population, and those who use the lunar calendar celebrate this festive occasion. Before 1873, the Japanese also celebrated Lunar New Year. They adopted the Gregorian calendar.

Wear your new red clothes. Red is the color of good fortune. New clothes mean a new beginning. Graciously accept a red envelope 红包 (hóng bāo) from your elders. May the money in the envelopes scare the bad spirits away. Even numbers are lucky but avoid the number 4 which is a homonym for death. Eight is the luckiest number of them all.

Watch a dragon or lion dance. Hang a red diamond-shaped poster with the character for luck 福 (fú) upside down 倒 (dǎo) because it sounds like the word arrive 到 (dào). Luck has arrived.

Spend time with your family and friends. But most importantly, eat food, lots and lots of good food. Food is the centerpiece at every Chinese gathering.

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