Happy Chinese New Year!

This year, Chinese New Year – The Year of the Monkey – begins today and lasts until Jan 27th, 2017.

The new year, also known as the Spring Festival, is marked by the lunisolar Chinese calendar, so the date changes from year to year. The festivities will likely have started yesterday and continue until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the new year.

 

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 blocks (or houses) just like its western counterpart, but with the major difference being that each house has a time-length of one year instead of one month.

The personality of the Monkey

People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterised as quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous, but it is also believed to be one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese calendar.

The general image of people in this zodiac sign is of always being smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth.

They are lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile. In addition, their gentleness and honesty bring them an everlasting love life. Although they were born with enviable skills, they still have several shortcomings, such as an impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others.

  • Strengths: sociable, innovative, enthusiastic, self-assured
  • Weaknesses: suspicious, cunning, selfish, arrogant, jealous

Performers play the dragon dance during the Chinese New Year paradePerformers play the dragon dance during the Chinese New Year parade  Photo: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features

Lucky Signs for the Monkey

  • Lucky numbers: 1, 7, 8
  • Lucky colours: white, gold, blue
  • Lucky flowers: chrysanthemum, alliums
  • Lucky directions: north, northwest, west

Famous people born under the monkey sign

Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, Celine Dion, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Halle Berry, Christina Aguilera, Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor, Alice Walker, Michael Douglas, Owen Wilson, Daniel Craig, Mick Jagger, Bette Davis, Annie Oakley, Eleanor Roosevelt, Cuba Gooding Jr., Gisele Bundchen, Kim Cattrall, Nick Carter, Patricia Arquette, Alyson Stoner, Christina Ricci, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, Selena Gomez.

Chinese New Year’s Day Taboos

To be avoided on the first day of the Chinese New Year:

  1. Medicine: Taking medicine on the first day of the lunar year means one will get ill for a whole year.
  2. New Year’s breakfast: Porridge should not be eaten, because it is considered that only poor people have porridge for breakfast, and people don’t want to start the year “poor” as this is a bad omen.
  3. Laundry: People do not wash clothes on the first and second day, because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of Shuishen (水神, the Water God).
  4. Washing hair: Hair must not be washed on the first day of the lunar year. In the Chinese language, hair (发) has the same pronunciation and character as ‘fa’ in facai (发财), which means ’to become wealthy’. Therefore, it is seen as not a good thing to “wash one’s fortune away” at the beginning of the New Year.
  5. Sharp objects: The use of knives and scissors is to be avoided as any accident is thought to lead to inauspicious things and the depletion of wealth.
  6. Going out: A woman may not leave her house; otherwise she will be plagued with bad luck for the entire coming year. A married daughter is not allowed to visit the house of her parents, as this is believed to bring bad luck to the parents, causing economic hardship for the family.
  7. The broom: If you sweep on this day then your wealth will be swept away too.
  8. Crying children: The cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family, so parents do their best to keep children as happy as possible.
  9. Theft: Having your pocket picked is believed to portend your whole wealth in the coming year being stolen.
  10. Debt: Money should not be lent on New Year’s Day, and all debts have to be paid by New Year’s Eve. If someone who owes you money, do not go to his or her home to demand it. Anyone who does so it is said will be unlucky all the year.
  11. An empty rice jar: An depleted receptacle may cause grave anxiety, as the cessation of cooking during the New Year period is considered to be an ill omen.
  12. Damaged clothes: Wearing threadbare duds can cause more bad luck for the year.
  13. Killing things: Blood is considered an ill omen, which will cause misfortunes such as a knife wound, or a bloody disaster.
  14. Monochrome fashion: White or black clothes are barred as these two colours are traditionally associated with mourning.
  15. Welcoming the New Year: According to tradition, people must stay up late on New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year, and then to let off firecrackers and fireworks to scare off inauspicious spirits and Nian, the New Year monster.
  16. Giving of certain gifts: Clocks, scissors, and pears all have a bad meaning in Chinese culture.

Popular Chinese New Year Greetings

1. 新年好 / 新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo)

‘New Year goodness!’

In Mandarin: /sshin-nyen haoww/

In Cantonese: /sen-nin haow/

2. 恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財 (Gōngxǐ fācái)

‘Happiness and prosperity!’

In Mandarin: /gong-sshee faa-tseye/

In Cantonese: Kunghei fatchoy /gong-hey faa-chwhy/

3. 步步高升 / 步步高陞 (Bùbù gāoshēng)

A steady rise to high places! — “on the up and up”

In Mandarin: /boo-boo gaoww-shnng /

In Cantonese: /boh-boh goh-sshin /

To all of our Chinese students, partners, and friends, we wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year! At The Sheffield College, we offer courses specifically for International students. For more information, please follow this link!

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