Things to know about the Chinese New Year

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Reginald D Hunter

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Monday 8 February marks the Chinese New Year. It’s a big deal for 20 per cent of the world’s population - the population of China is roughly 1.3 billion - but how much do you know about the celebration?

Chinese New Year is a 16-day celebration, making the western equivalent look decidedly brief in comparison. Celebrations start on New Year’s Eve - Sunday 7 February this year - and culminate with the lantern festival 15 days into the new year.

Chinese New Year - how to celebrate

- New Year’s Eve - Marked by a family reunion meal, giving lucky red envelopes (filled with money) to children and staying up late in celebration

- New Year’s Day - Marked with the setting of fireworks and the offering of sacrifices to ancestors

- Day two to three - Marked by visiting friends and extended family

- Day eight - This is when most people will go back to work

- Day 15 - Marked with the lantern festival, more fireworks and the eating of sweet dumplings

This year will be the Year of the Monkey, so as well as wishing your friends and family: ‘Xīnnián hǎo’ (Happy New Year), you may wish to try something more complex specific to a Monkey year. How about this monkey-themed greeting?

“Hóunián sòng nǐ wǔzhī hóu: jīling guǐmì rú míhóu, jiànkāng kuàilè xiàng mǎhóu, yōuxián fùguì shì hóuzi, wúyōu wúlǜ bǐ yuánhóu,cōngmíng línglì shèng sūnhóu.”

Translation, according to chinahighlights.com: “This Monkey year, I give you five monkeys: the ingenuity of the macaque, the health and happiness of the monkey, the leisure and wealth of monkey-kind,the lightheartedness of apes and monkeys,and intelligence and wit surpassing the Monkey King.”

Each new year is named after one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. These are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Like its western counterpart, the Chinese zodiac attributes certain personality traits to each star sign.

The personality of the monkey is thought to be mischievous and quick-witted, and people born under this sign are judged to be intelligent career high-flyers, but quick to anger with a tendency toward snobbiness.

Chinese Zodiac personality traits

- Rat: Intelligent, adaptable, quick-witted, charming, artistic, sociable

- Ox: Loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady, determined

- Tiger: Enthusiastic, courageous, ambitious, leadership, confidence, charismatic

- Rabbit: Trustworthy, empathic, modest, diplomatic, sincere, sociable, caretakers

- Dragon: Lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual, charismatic

- Snake: Philosophical, organized, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive, decisive

- Horse: Adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous, strong

- Goat: Tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, calm

- Monkey: Quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart

- Rooster: Honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, confident

- Dog: Loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable, smart

- Pig: Honorable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere, sociable

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