Goodbye Rabbit, hello Dragon

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. The Chinese New Year celebration is a 15-day event that starts with the new moon on the first day of the New Year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. This year (4710 on the Chinese calendar) begins on January 23rd, and is the Year of the Dragon.


For the Chinese, the dragon is the luckiest and most auspicious of all the animal signs. Chinese parents want their kids to get married in the Year of the Dragon. Chinese couples rush to make "dragon babies" because they're supposed to be lucky.


Being prepared is important since it sets the example for the year's luck ahead. All debts have to be repaid before the beginning of the New Year or else you will be in debt to others throughout the year. Also important is that anything lent out to family and friends must be collected or you will be lending for the rest of the year.


It is extremely important to make sure that your house is thoroughly cleaned and dusted as this ensures that the old stagnant Qi is swept away so that new, fresh auspicious Qi can enter the home. Throw out any old and broken items. Decorate your house with live, blooming plants as these symbolize rebirth and new growth in the household. Flowers such as pussy willow, azalea, peony, water lily or narcissus symbolize wealth and success your career. Next comes the fruit. Oranges and tangerines are two very symbolic fruits associated with the celebration of Chinese New Year. They are both symbols for abundant happiness. The color of oranges and tangerines represents gold and, together with a 'hung bao' ang pow, (red packet containing money), they are offered to friends and family as gifts symbolising gold ingots.


Gong Xi Fa Ca! That's the traditional Chinese New Year greeting that means, "wishing you prosperity" in Mandarin.