Monday, January 31, 2011

China's Best...Happy New Year!

2011 Year of the Rabbit

Those born in the Year of the Rabbit tend to be conservative and peaceful people.  They do not embark in activities that involve risk.  They prefer to lead a conservative life, focusing on color, design and emphasizing small details.  Most generally, the rabbit gets along well with others.

The festival of Chinese New Year is one of the most important and certainly the most colorful and elaborate festivals in China.  It is celebrated on the 1st day of the first moon of the lunar calendar.  According to the solar calendar, the date for Chinese New Year could be anywhere between January 21st and February 19th.  This year it falls on February 3, 2011, the Year of the Rabbit.

Preparations for Chinese New Year are followed precisely by tradition and by the lunar and solar movements of the moon.  This is the time for family reunions and for expressing congratulations for making it to the New Year.  "We made it through the old-bring on the new!"  During these family times, the Chinese re-inforce the importance of family ties.

One of the first items on the list of preparations is called "The Sweeping of the Grounds".  For several days prior to the New Year, the homes are swept inside and out, much like we in the United States do our Spring Cleaning (or in my case, it's fall cleaning!).  Decorative scrolls worded with poems and good wishes for the family are hung outside the entrances of the home.  Most of these scrolls are made from shuan paper instead of rice paper because the wrinkles can be easily smoothed and stretched out. And this paper is more compatible with Chinese brushes and ink.

       Chinese Good Luck Dragon    Chinese Grace Virtue Scroll

Flowers and fruits are also used to decorate the home.  All of these preparations are made in the spirit of  "turning over a new leaf" and in hopes of receiving favorable reports from the "Kitchen God".

Once the Kitchen God has left the home to report to heaven his findings of a family's behavior,  it's time to resume preparations for festivities for the much awaited celebration.  Children are given red envelopes with money for gifts called "Lai-See" envelopes.  It's kind of like one big Birthday party for everyone.  Gifts are given to relatives and friends, and wherever you visit, there are fruits and other traditional delicacies served.  The people put on their best clothes and set out for the parades and socializing.  Red is a dominant color during the festival-symbolizing fire, it is believed to burn off bad luck.  Poems are written on red paper, and people wear red clothes.

The children really get involved in the holiday too-and they also experience the family closeness and the joys of being included in the fabulous celebrations.  They are invited to make their own decorations and take part in the parades and festivities.

year of the Tiger craft

children on parade
And, oh!  Speaking of decorations-the Chinese people, in my opinion, are the most creative and colorful when it comes to outdoor decorations.  Where do they come up with their ideas?  And how do they determine what colors they will use for all of the costumes and masks?  Where do they store all of the giant decorations during the year?  It has been said that the masks are used exclusively during the New Year holiday only, so, I can see how the once-a-year decor can bring about such excitement and joy.  The masks are constructed from a variety of materials such as paper and cloth, or leather, shell, metal, and even grass.  Of course they are painted with vivid colors and designs, and can resemble animals and, or, humans.  Some of these masks are even displayed in various museums and art galleries around the world and many are highly sought after by collectors.

 Get a load of this extreme and fabulous mask!

These two masks are just a couple of examples of the creativity of the people.  They have such realistic features depicting spirits, and, or, beings that have superior power over humans.  Yes-some are a litttttle SCARY!

The Chinese New Year festival lasts about 15 days, and on the 15th day is the Lantern Festival.  There is dancing in the streets with the main feature-The Dragon Dance.  The dragon can stretch as far as one hundred feet in length.  And the people carry lanterns into the streets forming one great parade.

And don't you just love these lanterns?  I am so fascinated by them-would like to have one!

And, so, my dear readers, all of these events are just small quips of the wonders and delights of the Chinese New Year.  From trays of togetherness, fruits, sweets, flowers, and well wishes for family and friends, to dressing up the house and oneself, and celebrating with extraordinary, colorful embellishments in the streets, (this is a mouthful!) dragon dances, parades and children's laughter-oh, how exciting it all must be!  It's hard work, but to the Chinese, the social and personal rewards make it well worth the wait for another
 New Year!

My husband Karo has been a mechanic since he was a young teenager-always working on cars and getting clunkers on the road and running like new.  In his 20's and 30's, he owned a gas station and worked on cars for a living.  He commends the Chinese for their craftsmanship in producing quality tools.  Karo says that in the 1950's and 1960's some of the tools he bought weren't of the best quality for the money, not holding up to wear and tear very long.  But later, in the 1970's and 1980's, he started purchasing tools made in China, and, for the money, they are very well made.  He says the prices are very reasonable and he just can't figure out how the Chinese are able to produce such good quality tools and get them over here to the states at such reasonable prices.  A couple of years ago, Karo purchased an acoustic guitar that was made in China and says that for such an inexpensive instrument, it is very well made with a good sound, and he feels quite certain that all of China made string instruments are of superb quality. 

So, there we have it!  You know, I've been trying to get my newest survey on my sidebar, but with no luck.  The title and question shows up, but the answer choices are invisible.  I never had this problem before I changed my blog template.  Can someone help me figure out WHAT THE HECK?  Or, is someone already trying to tell me something?  NO MORE SURVEYS!?!  Well, you'd better believe it-as soon as I figure out "what the heck", there will be a slew of surveys popping up!

And now, I would like to thank the internet and all of the resources made available to me.  It's wonderful to be able to visit the places of your choice to see how other folks live and celebrate.  This time I was fortunate to find worlds of information to just write a small bit about such a BIG holiday in a very interesting country.  

google search

Thank you, my kind readers and my husband, Karo, who continues to encourage me to write.  Please visit as often as you like and feel free to make comments. 

"Kong Xi Fa Cai"
Make your great dreams come true this Chinese New Year!


  1. Very interesting post about the Chinese New Year and I learnt a lot from it. I can appreciate the research that you put into it. Well done!

  2. I've learned so much myself since I started blogging and appreciate all of it. And even at my age, I'm retaining much of it. But, of course, I wanted to learn it-that makes a difference. Thankyou Thisisme for your sweet comments.

  3. wow! thanks for all that info!!

    HEY!! Susan! does year of the rabbit mean we're gonna have a population explosion!!??

    just wanted to add here...good luck with Super Bowl Sunday! tomorrow! wow! i hear another storm is on its way. too bad the weather couldn't have magically cleared...and warmed for this BIG day!
    GO STEELERS! yeah! :]laura

  4. Well, as much as I like rabbits I'm not sure I'd like to see a population explosion. It's too dangerous out there for them! And yeah, I think some of the people are trying to dump their SuperBowl tickets and go home. What was going for $3600 last week is now going for $600. They were really partying(sp?)-hah!anyway, last nite, so maybe it will get better. The bad weather sure made us look bad-but, hey, I got a couple of days off work-worked for me! I just hope everyone stays cool and the weather stays mild. Can't wait to see the game! GO STEELERS!


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