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By Tarvin Webteam - 28th January 2017 6:00am
Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year Festival, the year of the Rooster. The festival grew at a time when agricultural activity was at a low ebb and, despite being held in winter, is called the Spring Festival.
Traditionally this is a time for families to be together and, as the urban population of China has grown, the festival creates a huge movement of people as about 200,000,000 million of Chinese travel back to their rural roots — that's about 4% of the world's population!
New Year is also a time for making amends, re-establishing friendships and giving gifts, usually money in red envelopes. They come from the old to the young, from those in work to those in the family not working and from bosses to employees. Red is a symbol of energy, happiness and good luck, the money should also be new, crisp notes and the amounts depend on the relationship being honoured. Fireworks are also a feature of the festival as the Chinese traditionally believe that loud bangs frighten away evil spirits, especially the sea monster Nian, who rose out of the sea at new year and attempted to eat villagers and destroy their houses. To be effective, Chinese fireworks must be loud!
Though the official holiday in China is 7 days only 3 of those are official public holidays and workers are expected to work the two weekend days closest to the holidays to 'make up work time'. The Festival officially ends this year on February 11th with the Lantern Festival.
The Rooster is one of the Chinese zodiac symbols and years are assigned to one of 12 animals. People born in a Rooster year are believed to be hard-working, resourceful, courageous and talented. However Chinese astrology states that the Zodiac sign you were born under is unlucky for you when it come around again 12 years later. Though there are many things you can do to mitigate this, wearing red is an excellent antidote.
Our own centre of Chinese life in Tarvin, the New Village restaurant is not having any special celebrations but will be offering its usual excellent Cantonese and Peking cuisine. For those eating in there are plenty of deals available in the supermarkets, the local Co-op has a Chinese meal deal for £5, so there is no excuse not to participate in this special day.
GONG XI FA CAI! or GONG HEY FAT CHOI! (in Mandarin and Cantonese)
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