The Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a holiday that celebrates a new year in China
according to the lunar calendar. Because our calendar is according to
the birth of Jesus Christ, the Chinese's way of telling time is older
and slightly different from others. This holiday is considered to be
one of the most important in Chinese tradition.
This holiday is celebrated focused on bringing good
luck for the year ahead and the coming of spring. The time, sometimes
lasting up to a month, is full of family gatherings, gift giving, and
the eating of traditional foods and making of festive decorations.
There are many traditions that the Chinese use to
symbolize good luck for the New Year. For example, adults will give
children money in red envelopes (hong bao in Mandarin or lai-see in
Cantonese) that are meant to symbolize wealth and prosperity for the
coming year. Elders may also give these gifts to unmarried parts
of the family.
Families may also clean their house before the New
Year, in order to have good luck for the coming spring.
The Chinese Zodiac has
been a traditional horoscope used for generatons in China. It has
twelve different animals that rotate different years. People believe
that the year you are born symbolizes your animal and personality. They
also believe that you may have characteristics of your animal. For
example, if you are a monkey, you might be known to be carefree and
humorous. If you are a horse, you may tend to take charge of a group
and have lots of energy.
The most well-known story of the Chinese Zodiac has
to do with religion, also. Buddha invited all the animals to a New
Year's dinner, but only twelve of them showed up. He thanked the
animals by starting the Zodiac, and having different years for each
animal. This is supposedly how the Chinese Horoscopes came to be.
Do you want to find your animal? Below you will find a
list of all the Zodiac animals, and their years and personality traits.
See if the animal that symbolizes you really describes who you are as a
Were you born in...
1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, or 1988?
You are a dragon!
You go out of your way to help your friends, who often go to you
for advice. You have an outgoing personality which helps you get along
with many types of people.
1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, or 1989?
You are a horse!
You have lots of energy and love an adventure. Being a natural boss,
you know how to work a crowd.
1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, or 1990?
You are a snake!
You always think before your actions, and rely on yourself more than
other people. You sometimes tend to be vain about your looks, and are a
little overconfident with yourself sometimes.
1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, or 1991?
You are a sheep!
You are artistic, creative, and a loyal friend. You may sometimes feel
insecure without people by your side, which is why you gravitate
towards large groups instead of having one best friend.
1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, or 1992?
You are a monkey!
Everyone appreciates your cleverness and sense of humor, and the way
you love to "hang" out and have a good time. Although you may like to
show off sometimes, you have lots of friends that stick by your side.
1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, or 1993?
You are a rooster!
Practical and resourceful, you are a hard worker, and use what you need
to do well in life without taking risks. One flaw of a rooster- you say
exactly what's on your mind, without thinking of the consequences.
1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, or 1994?
You are a dog!
Dogs are great listeners and can easily keep secrets, especially if
they are your friends, who, like the sheep, you are very loyal to. Like
a dog's great sense of smell, you have a keen sense of right and wrong
and are not afraid to stand up for what you believe in.
1935, 1947, 1971, 1983, or 1995?
You are a pig!
You are both smart and caring, and love to help other people. Being a
peaceful person, you like to not take for granted all the nice things
1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, or 1996?
You are a rat!
You love new challenges and enjoy school, as you welcome learning about
new things. Humerous and smart, you are a generous giver and stand up
for your "pack" of friends.
1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, or 1997?
You are an ox!
Ox's are shy, caring and trustworthy people. You never lose sight of
goals in life and are definately a perfectionist, wanting to do things
right the first time.
1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, or 1998?
You are a tiger!
A natural leader, you believe strongly in fighting for what's right,
even if you lose in the end. You are brave and true, but often a loner,
which is how you stay in charge!
1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, or 1999
You are a rabbit!
Rabbit's are well liked and popular, usually surrounded by family and
friends. Although you usually try to find ways to avoid conflicts and
fights, you always protect your friends, and they gladly do the same
Food and Dining
Over the years, the Chinese have developed
a tase in food that is
different from other cultures. It's food is usually spicy, or with a
sweet or tangy taste. A lot of it is very good, though some is what you
might not expect Chinese food to taste or look like.
"I'm sure you have tasted food in Chinese
resteraunts in the U.S.
or U.K.," said Meaghan, part of the DATW team, who has traveled to
China to adopt her baby sister, "but that's usually not at all what it
tastes like in real China. I
remember the traditional Chinese meal we had at a fancy resteraunt- I
tried to avoid the shark fin and water beetle."
Below you will find pictures Meaghan's family
took of some Chinese cuisine that will probably ruin your
"When I went to a Chinese market," says Meaghan's
brother, Brian, "I noticed that silkworms are so popular that they are
sold in barrels up to three feet tall."
You are definately brave to be going on.
Fortunately, most traditional foods are not that...
well, alive. Some traditional
recepies include Chinese Chicken Salad (a food Meaghan has made and
reports is very good) Peaking Duck (a food Meaghan's brother has tried
and loved, but she was too "chicken" to try it), and appetizers Chow
Ming and Dim Sum.
There are also traditional ways of dining in Chinese
culture. For example, there is an order of eating certain dishes. The
entrees are normally eaten in the order of:
Dessert (which usually consists of Green Tea ice cream)
And finally oranges*, or other types of fruit
Babies traditionally (there's that word again) sit in regular chairs
with miniature highchair seats on top. During the meal they usually
resort to baby food such as chicken congee (overcooked rice in hot
water with chicken or other flavoring). They eat with ceramic porcelain
*Oranges are traditionally eaten at the end of the meal for good luck,
or 'a sweet life'.
100 Good Wishes Quilt
In northern China it is a widespread tradition to
make a Bai Jai Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt, to welcome a new baby
into the family. It is custom to invite at least 100 people to
contribute a single piece of cloth to make a quilt for the coming
child. All 100 pieces are combined through delicate stitches to create
beautiful blanket. In China these quilts were originally made from the
clothes of family members and friends, to surround the child with good
luck and good wishes forever through their life, and the lives of their
sons and daughters, as the quilt is passed down from generation to
This example of a "Bai Jai Bei" is one that was put
together by family and friends of Meaghan's family, for her adopted
Chinese sister, Angela. As you can see, it is full of vibrant colors
and almost each square represents someone wishing baby Angela "good