Happy Chinese New Year!
I LOVE travelling to Chinatown for New Year celebrations. The streets adorned with lucky red lanterns, the amazing costumes of the dragon dancers as they careen through the crowd, cymbals crashing to ward off any evil spirits that might be lurking. I love how the Chinese forget and forgive any grudges at New Years so as to begin the following year with a fresh slate. And the food, oh my goodness the food..!
New Year traditions in China centre on attracting luck and happiness. The symbols for "luck", "wealth" and "longevity" appear everywhere you look - on doors and windows, and the colour red glows like fire. Every house is thoroughly cleaned to sweep the house of any ill fortune and to make space for in-coming good luck. Children and office workers receive coins and bonuses in red paper envelopes and every family sits down to a huge feast which always features a whole chicken (symobolising family togetherness).
On the first day of the New Year, families pay a visit to the older members of their extended clan to spend time with them and pay their respects.
2011 marks the year of the Rabbit, according to the centuries old Chinese Zodiac. The Rabbit is the fourth sign and is considered very lucky, symbolising graciousness, good manners, sound counsel, kindness and a fine appreciation of beauty. The Chinese believe the Rabbit to be the emblem of longevity, and that the Rabbit receives the Elixir of Immortality from the Moon.
Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? What traditions are important to you? What dishes are always at your family feast?
PS: Yasi, Yasi, Yasi! Our thoughts are again with the people of QLD (especially the communities of Tully, Cardwell, Mission Beach and surrounding) who have just lived through a truly terrifying category 5 cyclone. More utter devastation, but thankfully (at the time of writing this) no loss of life reported. Here's hoping the Year of the Rabbit will bring respite from such destruction.
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