Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!  I wanted to wish all of my blogging friends a happy new year before I continue to celebrate (and eat a big dinner) with my own family and friends.  I'm super happy because I was born on the year of the Snake so it is exciting to see pictures of Snakes everywhere.

Today is the start of the most important festival of the Chinese culture.  To compare it to the American culture, it is like the our Thanksgiving since the Chinese people use this time to travel and spend time with family and friends.

Below are a few quick facts about the Chinese New Year:

As you may see in many Chinese New Year products, you see different greetings in Chinese.  I just wanted to clarify what they mean when you teach your students.

"Gong Hay Fat Choy" vs. "Gong Xi Fa Cai"
Both of these Chinese greetings mean congratulations/ happy new year but one is in Cantonese and the other is in Mandarin.

Gong Xi Fa Cai (KONG tsee fah chy): Gong xi means "congratulations" and Fa Cai is become rich or make money.

Gong Hay Fat Choy: This is the Cantonese greeting.  It is the equivalent greeting to the Mandarin greeting.  This is what I say to others because my family are Cantonese-speaking (Chinese people from Hong Kong).  The Cantonese language is like the Italian language of Spanish.

When you receive your Red envelopes,  the Receiver should greet the Giver by saying Happy Chinese New Year then take the Red envelope with TWO hands.  It is a form of respect to your elders.  Some people bow as they do this, but now in the modern days some people don't.

How to correctly find your Chinese Zodiac Animal Sign:
Many people confuse their Chinese birth yea with their Gregorian (our calendar) birth year.  As the Chinese New Year starts in late January to mid-February, the Chinese year dates from January 1 until that day in the new Gregorian year remain unchanged from the previous Gregorian year.

This took me a long time to understand when I was younger so here is an example.  The 1989 year of the snake began on February 6, 1989.  The year 1990 is considered by some people to be the year of the Horse.  HOWEVER, the 1989 year of the snake OFFICIALLY ended on February 8, 1990.  This means that anyone born from January 1 to February 7, 1990 was actually born in the year of the SNAKE rather than the year of the Horse.

I told my boyfriend about this issue because he has a January birthday.  All of his life, he thought he was a Snake but when we looked up when Chinese New Year started on his birth year (it was in Feb), we found out he was actually a Dragon (the animal before the Snake).  He was so excited he is scared of snakes and the Dragon is a cooler animal.

So if you were born in the months January or February, you should check what day Chinese New Year was in your birth year to determine your correct zodiac animal.  Many online Chinese Sign calculators do not account for the non-alignment of the two calendars.

I hope you learned something new in my post about my Chinese heritage and culture.  I would love to hear your thoughts about Chinese New Year!