Monday, February 11, 2013

Chinese New Year: Snake

    The Chinese New Year marks the start of the new year according to the Chinese lunar calendar and it occurs in the months of January or February. Each year is represented by one of 12 creatures of the Chinese Zodiac. This year it is the Snake.
     The snake is both a mythological and folkloric creature. Here are some of the widely-held beliefs held about this reptile:
  • A snake in the house is a good omen because it means your family will not starve.
  • The snake is willing to sacrifice possessions, something it has a lot of, in order to pay for family food.
  • It is intuitive, introspective, and refined and does not show emotion.
  • The snake can plot and scheme to make sure things turn out exactly as wanted
  • Snakes are great communications and can be quite possessive.
    Chinese New Year decorations for this 15-day celebration include lanterns, cherry blossoms, orange-trees and lots of red color. For many, the most significant aspect is when family members gather for a meal together in the parents or eldest brother’s home. In places like the United States many immigrants without family, become involved with neighborhood cultural associations.  The reunion dinner is usually an elaborate assortment of courses including dishes of chicken, pork and fish. Each dish is symbolic and ushers in health, happiness and harmony.
    Gift giving is also an important component. The most common gift amongst family, colleagues and business contacts is a box of oranges. Ang-poh (little red packets) with money tucked inside  are given to children.
    On the fifteen day the Lantern Festival takes place. Some of the lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon.
    One highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon is usually made of silk, paper and bamboo and held by young men who dance in a parade. Parades today also include marching bands and floats.

For fun:
Chinese New Year Crafts for Kids 
Shrimp Fried Rice
Chinese Dragon Dance Video 

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