2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster, starting from January 28th, and ending on February 15th, 2017, known as the "Lantern Festival." The Rooster is tenth, out of twelve, in the Chinese zodiac, with each year designated by an animal.
Kung Hei Fat Choy (Cantonese) Xīnnián kuàilè (Mandarin). The first day of Chinese New Year, known as the "Spring Festival," begins with the New Moon, and lasts 15 days, ending with the Full Moon. The last day of the New Year is called "The Lantern Festival" and people celebrate by organizing a parade with children carrying lanterns. Chinese New Year, based on the lunar calendar, is not on the same day every year, as the cycles of the moon are different.
Preparations begin well in advance. The old year is ending so one must bring things to a close in order to welcome a new year and begin fresh. This includes paying off debts & settling accounts; evaluation of the past year and the failures & fortunes; spiritual and physical cleansing--getting rid of negative attitudes, cleaning one's home and office.
During the celebration of New Years, people decorate with special banners, many of which are red and gold representing happiness and prosperity. Friendships are renewed, and gifts are often exchanged. A traditional gift that is given is small red envelopes (lai see in Cantonese, hong bao in Mandarin) filled with "lucky money". These envelopes are given to children by their family and friends.
There will be firecrackers and fireworks which the Chinese believe scare away evil spirits and bring in the new year without the misfortunes that evil spirits can bring.
The Chinese dine on special foods meant to bring prosperity, good fortune, longevity, and happiness. Numerous symbolic "lucky dishes" are eaten during Chinese New Year. Some important dishes include:
- Dumplings & spring rolls = wealth
- Longevity noodles = happiness & longevity
- Whole fish = increased prosperity & abundance
- Lion's head meatballs = power & strength
- Rice cakes = better position and/or income
- Tangerines/oranges = luck
The foundation of Chinese Astrology comes from Ying-Yang and The Five Elements - Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. According to legend, the Buddha concluded that the Chinese nation needed reorganization and, at New Year, invited all the animals in the kingdom to attend a meeting.
Only twelve animals showed up so to honor them, the Buddha bestowed each one with a year of its own. Each animal has its own personality and characteristics and many believe these characteristics apply to people based upon the year of their birth.
There are two cycles – the twelve-year cycle and the great cycle that lasts for 60 years. The great cycle is the combination of the twelve animals and the Five Elements, based on the five complete journeys of Jupiter. There are five variations of each of the animals. For example, a person could be born in the year of the Metal Rooster, Water Rooster, Wood Rooster, Fire Rooster or Earth
example of the importance of the 60 year cycle is Kanreki ("Kan" means cycle +
"Reki" means calendar in Japanese). It is a
time for Japanese (and other Asian cultures) to celebrate their lives as
they have completed the cycle - 12 years and 5 animals. The concept of
"longevity" is very important in Asian cultures.