The Chinese New Year, Explained

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CELEBRATIONS:

Yes, it's a very festive period:

  • Feast with family members, being sure to remember ancestors, in-laws and even dogs.
  • Farmers should display their best crops.
  • Enjoy new year music, played on traditional instruments.
  • Wear festive red and gold.
  • Enjoy bright lights, firecrackers and an exciting time together.

SUPERSTITIONS:

  • Don't sweep your house on New Year's Day -- hopefully, you did this yesterday!
  • Paint the doorways red.
  • And don't drop your chopsticks, wash your hair or borrow money.

THE ZODIAC:

We've all seen those red paper placemats in many Chinese restaurants, featuring the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac. The signs are represented by well-known animals, which, according to legend, were selected in a race across China. During each New Year celebration, a new animal is honored. Here are the personality traits commonly associated with each animal:

  • Rat: Quick, slick, witty, charming, very sharp. Can be stubborn and calculating.
  • Ox: A powerful, dependable leader. Loyal, logical and systematic.
  • Tiger: A natural air of royal authority. Powerful, confident, mysterious.
  • Rabbit: Sociable diplomats, timid and intellectual.
  • Dragon: Excitable, energetic, even explosive. Powerful and wealthy.
  • Snake: Fascinating, attractive, intriguing, even enchanting. Secretive and possessive.
  • Horse: Independent, confident, likes to roam. Can flash a temper.
  • Sheep: Stylish, creative, an innovative thinker. Loves attention.
  • Monkey: As mischievous as their namesake. Clever and inventive.
  • Rooster: Flashy, flamboyant, full of style and attitude. Very confident.
  • Dog: Faithful, trustworthy, a good listener. Sometimes stubborn.
  • Pig: As noted above, we pigs are honest, tolerant and happy.