Happy Chinese New Year!

The start of the lunar year is drawing closer, and millions across the world are preparing to celebrate Chinese New Year. This January marks the beginning of the Year of the Rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac.

The Rooster is the tenth in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac sign and is considered the epitome of fidelity and punctuality. People born in the year of the Rooster are very observant, hard-working, resourceful, courageous, talented and very confident in themselves. Roosters are happiest when they are surrounded by others, enjoying the spotlight and showing their charming personality on any occasion. They are also highly motivated, making their careers a priority. They are hard working, multi-talented, and can deal with a variety of jobs.

Traditionally, on New Year's eve, families gather and exchange gifts. Every year celebrations begin on January 27th, New Year's Eve, and last for around two weeks, making it the longest Chinese holiday. On New Year's Day, people clean their houses. It is believed that by doing so they are sweeping away bad-fortune. Red envelopes stuffed with "lucky money" are given to children, along with written wishes for their kids to grow up healthy. However Chinese New Year has also been touched by the digital age, with red envelope apps, where people can exchange digital money, being launched. People also decorate their houses with red paper cutouts, banners and special New Year paintings during the festive period. This year is also likely to see Rooster themed decorations.

Over the years the Chinese have created an amazing atmosphere, hoping each coming year will bring even more prosperity, luck and happiness! Chinese New Year celebrations start on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Chunjie (春节), translated as Spring Festival speaks for itself what is the background of this holiday. Back in time Chinese society was mainly agricultural, and according to China's traditional solar calendar, the first Chinese month is called “start of Spring”. During the Spring Festival, the Chinese traditionally celebrate the start of a new year of farm work and wish for a good harvest. This has now evolved to celebrating the start of a new business year, wishing for profits and success.

An ancient legend tells the story of a monster called “Nian”(- year). On the eve of every New Year it comes out to eat children and livestock. According to the legend the monster is afraid of red color and loud sounds. Therefore, people began to decorate their houses in red and set off firecrackers to scare it off.

Today every street, building and house, where Chinese new year is celebrated, is decorated in red. Red lanterns hang in the streets. Vertical red stripes (or “duilian”), placed parallel to one another on each side of a door, is one of the symbols that Chinese New year can't go without. Poetic and traditional Chinese sayings are written on them, representing the wishes and expectations that Chinese people have for the new year. Banks and official buildings are all decorated in red New Year pictures depicting images of prosperity and fortune. That's right, red is the main color for the festival and is believed to be an auspicious color.

But beside all the symbols, what do Chinese people actually do to welcome the New Year? A family reunion. The most important part of the festival. It's not a coincidence that at this time of the year some 3 billion trips by public transport in China are made, and 10% of the population in Beijing in Shanghai leaves the cities. Because first of all, Chinese New Year is a time for families to be together. Wherever they are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their relatives.

The New Year's eve dinner is called “reunion dinner”, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together. Similarly to Christmas, people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival. The most common gifts are red envelopes. Red envelopes have money in, and are used with the hope of bringing good luck, blessing and happiness.

This is how the Chinese start each year – expecting only the best each coming year may offer them. The perfect new beginning! Happy New Year of the Rooster, dear Chinese members and friends! The OneLife Network wishes you lots of happiness, best of luck, success and prosperity!

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