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Gong Xi Fai Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!

Mon, 8 February 2016

Gong Xi Fai Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year!

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year! Chinese New Year falls on the 8th of February this year and celebrations continue on till the 13th February. Usually, the Chinese public holidays take 7 consecutive days off starting on the eve of Chinese New Year, however, the Saturday (6th Feb) and the Sunday (14th Feb) are worked. 

Did you know the traditional celebrations can begin as early as the 31st of January and last until 22nd February! 

What Zodiac Sign are you?

This year, it is the year of the Monkey! What is your chinese zodiac sign?

The years below are a rough guide but if you were born in January or February it may vary as the New Year moves between the 21st January and February 20th

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
  • Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

Traditional Customs

Before the New Year day, many clean their houses ahead of time as it is considered a bad omen to clean/sweep the dust during the new year celebrations. It is believed that if you sweep during the New Year, you 'sweep' away the good luck you have accumulated during the celebrations. Houses are decorated with red symbols, paper cut-outs, and door couplets to bring in good luck. Many also put up red lanterns in the house and on the streets of towns and cities.  

New Year’s Eve Dinner – This is usually the must-do for families as a reunion dinner. Many foods eaten are symbolic, such as dumplings (JiaoZi) which are shaped like old Chinese ingots symbolising wealth. In Southern China, sticky rice which is called (NianGao) which sounds like ‘yearly higher’ in Chinese which symbolises improvement.

Red envelopes – Lucky Money (Lai Si- Cantonese/ Hong Bao-Mandarin red envelope) – These are usually given by adults, grandparents and married couples to children and unmarried people. Money is given in red envelopes as red is considered a lucky colour, therefore called 'Lucky Money'.

The Legend of ‘Nian’

The mythical beast ‘Nian’ liked to eat children and livestock as the end of the year. It is said, a wise old man discovered that ‘Nian’ was afraid of loud noises and the colour red. So to prevent ‘Nian’ from attacking, people put food out for ‘Nian’ and decorated their house with red couplets, lanterns and symbols and lit firecrackers to scare ‘Nian’ away.

Phrases in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese!)

Here are some phrases for Chinese New Year to wish your friends to welcome in the Year of the Monkey! Mandarin is spoken by a vast majority of Mainland China, whereas Cantonese is mainly spoken in the Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macau.

'New Year happiness!'

  • In Mandarin: Xin nián kuài lè
  • In Cantonese: sun-nin fai-lok

'Happiness and prosperity!'

  • In Mandarin: Gong xi fa cái
  • In Cantonese: Gong hey fat-choy

'The spirit of the dragon and horse'

  • In Mandarin: Lóng ma jingshén
  • In Cantonese: Long ma jeng sun

'Enjoy good health'

  • In Mandarin: Shenti jiànkang
  • In Cantonese: Sun tai geen hong

Has this inspired you to take your next school trip to China?

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