Happy Chinese New Year 2009!

Chinese New Year Parade新年快樂~! (Photo: p_a_h)

Yesterday — Jan. 26th, was the Chinese New Year, also known as 春節 (Spring Festival) or 旧正月 (Kyūshōgatsu) in Japan. This is probably the most important festival for us, and it’s packed with lots of delicious food, fireworks, dancing lions, and what else!

Chinese New Year FireworksFireworks! (Photo: G. Ivanov-Kuhn)

This festival is widely celebrated in original ethnic Chinese cultures and cultures related to China — Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand… you name it! It’s also popular in some cities in Japan, though not as much as one  expects. So, what makes it so special?

The Year of the Ox!

2009 is the year of the Ox, my year actually! If you’re 12, 24 (that’s me!), 36 and so on, then this year will be filled with good luck, red envelopes, and happyness!

Chinese New Year's Eve dinnerA tasty dinner and red envelopes, the perfect New Year’s Eve! (Photo: Daniel Chan)

The red envelopes, known as 紅包 (Hong bao) in Chinese, are basically how we exchange presents. So, what’s in the inside? Most likely money (money!), which ranges from just a few bucks to ridiculous amounts, depending on who you are and who you know. Whenever I have the chance to see my uncles, I usually end up with quite a hefty sum of money. Yet another good reason to celebrate the Chinese New Year!

What’s with all the red stuff?

Well, according to the legend, every year started with an epic fight against a mythical beast. The beast would eat anything in its way — be it crops, villagers, or animals. Well, one day they found out that the beast was scared of the color red!

Chinese New Year lanternsRed is the color of the Chinese New Year (Photo: Hamdan Zakaria)

What else besides red?

Well, the Chinese New Year’s Eve is full of delicious food, parades, dances (including the lion dance of course), and good luck!

Chinese New Year DanceThe Lotus Dance is definitely one of my favorites (Photo: Hao)

The Chinese New Year is based on the Lunar Calendar, this is why it changes (based on our normal calendar) every year. Chinese festivals and parades are also widely popular in many cities like San Francisco, New York, and even in my Costa Rica!

Chinese New Year DancePhoto: Hao

Anyway, hope the Chinese New Year brings happiness and luck to you all! As a bonus, Google discretely made a new logo for this occasion, though it was not available on their main Google.com website:

Google Chinese New Year LogoDid you catch the Google Chinese New Year’s logo?

So, did you celebrate the Chinese New Year? I got $10 on my red envelope, how about you? Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to our content by RSS or by email (it’s up there), hope you enjoyed the read!



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