Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy "heart" Day!

Wow weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee = busy here in our house. Waiting for Spring and getting a little tired of the cold, wintery stuff.

We have attended many Chinese New Year Events, playdates, birthday parties, and today we had two parties at school for Valentines Day. The kids are really into this year. Even signed a few themselves. They also were invited over to decorate cookies for the holiday and they wanted to decorate them all for daddy.

On the house note, plans are done and being bid out by the contracters. Other than that, Shangri-la is still here and we are counting the days away until Spring, even got asked about when the pool opens this year. Yikes!

Nothing else to report, just thought I would post a few photos and wish everyone a Happy 'heart' Day (that is what Jacob calls it because he can't remember the word Valentines).


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!

“Gung Hay Fat Choy”
(Best wishes and Congratulations - Have a prosperous and good year)
"Teen Hau Way Goong"
(We all work under Heaven for the benefit of the common good)

What is Chinese New Year’s

Just what is Chinese New Year? There's actually a lot more to it than lion dances and firecrackers, although these two pieces of tradition are integral and more visible, Chinese New Year to China is like Christmas to the West. In essence, Chinese New Year is spending time with family, gift giving and, the all important, food-fest.

In 2008, New Year's Day falls on Thursday, February 7. Chinese workers usually get a week of holiday over Chinese New Year. This means that offices and factories are closed and shops and banks may have limited hours. But generally, aside from New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, most service facilities (restaurants, hotels) and certainly tourist sights are open.

Chinese New Year celebrations have their origin with end-of-harvest celebrations when people would offer thanks to gods for good harvests and entreaty for a good crop in the following year.

Chinese Zodiac
There are various stories about the origins of the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac. Some use the Chinese gods, some use Buddha, but the essence of the story is that a higher being called all animals to a meeting and the first to arrive would be chosen. Before all this, the rat and the cat were good friends. But on the morning of the meeting, the rat, in her excitement, forgot to wake up the cat and through various means of trickery (or cleverness, as this rat interprets) got to the gods first and was thus chosen first. The cat slept in and missed the gathering, and since then, the two have been enemies. Only 12 animals came to the meeting. As a reward they were named a year after each other one in the order that they arrived. First came the Rat, then the Ox, the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Thus we have 12 signs today.
2008 brings us the Year of the Brown Earth Rat beginning a new twelve-year cycle on the Chinese calendar.


Birth Years - 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Characteristics: Imaginative, Charming, Generous to loved ones, Hard-working, Quick-tempered, Critical

Birth Years - 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Characteristics: Alert, Strong leadership, Demanding, Stubborn, Methodical, Dislikes failure, Make great parents

Birth Years - 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 201
Characteristics: Short-tempered, Suspicious, Adventurous, Sensitive. Emotional, Risk-taking

Birth Years - 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Characteristics: Articulate, Ambitious, Controlled, Affectionate, Cooperative, Friendly, Sentimental

Birth Years - 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Characteristics: Healthy, Energetic, Short-tempered, Stubborn, Honest, Sensitive, Trust-worthy, Gregarious, Popular, Intelligent

Birth Years - 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Characteristics: Vain, Selfish, Sympathetic, Charitable, Romantic, Charming, Stingy, Self-reliant

Birth Years – 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Characteristics: Popular, Cheerful, Skilled with money matters, Hard-working, Impatient, Independent, Intelligent

Birth Years – 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Characteristics: Wise, Gentle, Compassionate, Charming, Elegant, Slightly materialistic, Quick to complain, Shy, Pessimistic

Birth Years – 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Characteristics: Intelligent, Clever, Good memory, Popular, Judgmental

Birth Years – 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Characteristics: Hard-working, Shrewd, Bold, Boastful, Correct

Birth Years – 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Characteristics: Honest, Faithful, Loyal, Trust-worthy, Worrisome, Sharp-tongued

Birth Years – 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
Characteristics: Chivalrous, Gallant, Honest, Tolerant, Thirsty for knowledge, Well-informed, Quick tempered, Avoid confrontation, Naïve

Chinese New Year’s Eve (February 6, 2008)
New Year's Eve is a time for family get-togethers for eating, catching up and shou sui (staying up all night), waiting for the new year.
At midnight, it's a custom to eat jiao zi (dumplings), because the word jiao zi is similar to the ancient word for new replacing the old. The crescent shape of the dumpling is also similar to ancient money and the image of plates piled high with the dumplings lets people imagine heaps of money being brought to the table symbolizing wealth in the New Year. Also at midnight, it is customary to set off firecrackers. This was traditionally done to scare away demons but in modern times is a ritual of merriment and pyrotechnics.

From New Year's Day Forward (February 7 – 21, 2008)
Day One: New Year's Day (the first day of the first lunar month):
Traditionally, one welcomes the gods from the heaven and earth. Ming and Qing emperors would perform a grand ceremony at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
Elders give children ya sui, or gifts of money. The money is put into a lovely red envelope, called a hong bao, that is usually decorated with New Year’s wishes, and given to happy children. Some Chinese might give up meat for the day. No one cleans! Cleaning on New Year's Day is serious bad luck; you might sweep all the good fortune out the door.

Day Two: Prayers to ancestors are added to prayers to the gods. It's believed that this day is the birthday of all dogs, so it's better to be extra kind to dogs on this day as well.

Days Three & Four: Sons-in-laws pay respect to their in-law families.

Day Five: Everyone stays home to wait for and welcome the God of Wealth. It's bad luck to visit anyone on this day.

Day Six to Ten: Families go out to visit relatives and friends.

Day Seven: It's a special day for farmers and it's also supposed to be the birthday of all mankind. Eating noodles is traditional to ensure long life.

Day Ten to Twelve: Now that the visiting is over, it's time to invite family and friends over for dinner.

Day Thirteen: Finally! A break in the lavish meals! One is supposed to eat simply on the thirteenth day of New Year.

Day Fourteen: Time to prepare for day fifteen, the Lantern Festival.

Day Fifteen: The Lantern Festival, celebrated on the night of the first full moon, also marks the end of the Chinese New Year holiday period. Chinese people light lanterns, play riddle games and eat sticky rice balls.

From our house to yours: Happy Chinese New Year!