Friday, 27 January 2017

Kung Hei Fat Choi ~ Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year
Year of the (Fire)Rooster
Chinese New Year, known in modern Chinese as the "Spring Festival" (simplified Chinese 春节; traditional Chinese 春節; Pinyin: Chūn Jié) in Mainland China, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month.
In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese Lunar New Year begins on the new moon that falls between 21 January and 20 February. In the Chinese calendar, winter solstice must occur in the 11th month, which means that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (rarely the third if an intercalary month intervenes). In traditional Chinese Culture, lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about 4 or 5 February, which is the median date of Chinese New Year's Day. To determine whether a year has an intercalary month, one only needs to check whether Chinese New Year is within the month of January.
The New Year festival is centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong (officially as Lunar New Year), Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mauritius.
Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. Among about one-third of the Mainland population or 500 million Northerners, dumplings (especially those of vegetarian fillings) feature prominently in the meals celebrating the festival.
The traditional Chinese calendar follows a Metonic cycle (like the modern Jewish Calendar) and returns to the same date in Gregorian calendar roughly. The names of the Earthly Branches have no English counterparts and are not the Chinese translations of the animals. Alongside the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac, there is a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are rotated every two years while a yin and yang association alternates every year. The elements are thus distinguished: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, etc. These produce a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years.

The Rooster is tenth in the Chinese zodiac. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year cycle. Years of the Rooster include 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029.
2017 is a Fire Rooster year.
In Chinese element theory, each zodiac year is associated with one of five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth, which means that a Fire Rooster, for example, comes once every 60-year cycle.
The traditional Chinese calendar is organised around the movements of the moon.
Babies born in the new year, as well as those born in 1957, are fire roosters – said to be trustworthy and responsible with a good sense of timekeeping.
Roosters are said to be the most motivated animal in the Chinese zodiac and always put their careers first.
Babies born this year will be well suited to becoming a journalist, soldier or surgeon – according to traditional beliefs.
Families will wear brand new clothes, usually head-to-toe in red, to symbolise a new beginning and to ward off bad fortune.
Red envelopes containing money are often exchanged to scare away evil spirits.
The amount given must be an even number as odd numbers are associated with funerals.
To mark the new year grand fireworks displays will be held and Chinese people will set off firecrackers for several days.
The loud bangs are thought to ward off bad spirits.
Read more HERE and HERE

According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would eat villagers, especially children. One year, all the villagers decided to go hide from the beast. An old man appeared before the villagers went into hiding and said that he's going to stay the night, and decided to get revenge on the Nian. All the villagers thought he was insane. The old man put red papers up and set off firecrackers. The day after, the villagers came back to their town to see that nothing was destroyed. They assumed that the old man was a deity who came to save them. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the colour red and loud noises. When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozu's mount.

The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. It is a traditional practice to light fireworks, burn bamboo sticks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits as encapsulated by nian (Chinese: 年) of which the term guo nian (simplified Chinese: 过年; traditional Chinese: 過年; pinyin: guònián) was derived. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the days before. On this day, it is considered bad luck to use the broom.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time to honour one's elders and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

For Buddhists, the first day is also the birthday of Maitreya Bodhisattva (better known as the more familiar Budai Luohan), the Buddha-to-be. People also abstain from killing animals.

As with all cultures, Chinese New Year traditions incorporate elements that are symbolic of deeper meaning. One common example of Chinese New Year symbolism is the red diamond-shaped fu characters (Chinese: 福; pinyin: fú; Cantonese Yale: fuk1; literally: "blessings, happiness"), which are displayed on the entrances of Chinese homes. This sign is usually seen hanging upside down, since the Chinese word dao (Chinese: 倒; pinyin: dào; literally: "upside down"), is homophonous or nearly homophonous with (Chinese: 到; pinyin: dào; literally: "arrive") in all varieties of Chinese. Therefore, it symbolises the arrival of luck, happiness, and prosperity.
For the Cantonese-speaking people, if the fuk sign is hung upside down, the implied dao (upside down) sounds like the Cantonese word for "pour", producing "pour the luck [away]", which would usually symbolize bad luck; this is why the fuk character is not usually hung upside-down in Cantonese communities.

Red is the predominant colour used in New Year celebrations. Red is the emblem of joy, and this colour also symbolises virtue, truth and sincerity. On the Chinese opera stage, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or royal personage and sometimes a great emperor. Candies, cakes, decorations and many things associated with the New Year and its ceremonies are coloured red. The sound of the Chinese word for "red" is in Mandarin homophonous with the word for "prosperous". Therefore, red is an auspicious colour and has an auspicious sound.
Plum Blossom - symbolises luckiness
Kumquat - symbolises prosperity
Narcissus - symbolises prosperity
Bamboo - a plant used for any time of year
Sunflower - means to have a good year
Eggplant - a plant to heal sickness
Chom Mon Plant - a plant which gives you tranquillity
Kung Hei Fat Choi 🙏
I was a big fan of Andy Lau, and later, Takeshi Kaneshiro. 
Below are a few old favourites. I haven't watched these in years. Might have to see the New Year in with a movie. 😍

Moon Warriors - A Forlorn White Rabbit - Andy Lau
As Tears Go By - Andy Lau
A Moment of Romance - Andy Lau 💗
Lavender -  Takeshi Kaneshiro
Beauty Song Dance - House of Flying Daggers
Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau
House of Flying Daggers
I think one of my most favourite scenes is when he pauses
on his horse after riding off and turns back. 💕

Did you know?
Jade, or Yu, has been prized by Chinese people for over 7,000 years. Its value is comparable to gold and diamonds in the West. Many Chinese women believe that jade is closely related to the human body and the jade “qi” energy and the body “qi” energy flow between each other. They also believe that jade helps balance the body and that the colour of the jade will either enhance or fade out due to the person’s health, mood and body condition. Therefore, in order to keep the jade closely tied to their bodies, many women wear jade bracelets on them for a lifetime as they believe the jade bracelet will protect their soul and body. Once put on, jade bracelets are left on for years, or even decades. They should be worn on the left arm. When purchasing, choose a bangle that speaks to you, as it's believed that jade is alive and will attune itself to your energies. Only you should wear your piece of jade.If it becomes cloudy or dull, it indicates there is a lot of negativity or illness being absorbed.

Chinese parents often give a jade bracelet as a gift to their daughters as a symbol of their love and protection. The wisdom and mystery of jade is passed down from mother to daughter as folklore. Jade is understood as being a symbol that represents the virtues of compassion, courage, justice, wisdom, and modesty.

But what if the jade bracelet breaks? Does it mean that the person is ill or sick? Not at all. In fact, it is the contrary. If a woman’s jade bracelet breaks apart, then that means something terrible was about to occur, yet the jade took the damage. In other words, protecting her. Because of this belief, many Chinese women would wear jade bracelets as they believe that jade bracelets would help protect them from accidents.

I used to wear a green jade bracelet and it broke clean in half. It was replaced with another of lavender jade. I haven't worn it in years as nearly lost it in a swimming pool on holiday, luckily my son found it. Since then it has stayed in the jewellery box. While creating this post I remembered the tale and wanted to share it with you. 
Lavender Jade is one of the rarest forms of Jade. It has a gentle energy that is said to soothe, balance and heal and to bring joy, inner peace and harmony. Lavender Jade is believed to put you in touch with your emotions and to encourage moderation and delicacy when dealing with emotional matters. Some say Lavender Jade is a stone of the angels. It is the ultimate "Dream Stone," revered in ancient cultures, as well as today, to access the spiritual world. More HERE

Love and light,

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