Celebrating the Chinese New Year 2017

Chinese New Year is set to begin January 28 in 2017 – the Year of the Fire Rooster. This is one of the most important holidays in China, with several celebrations taking place throughout the country as a way of looking back on a year of hard work and to wish for a lucky and prosperous year ahead. This is a time to rest and relax with friends and family.

Year of the Fire Rooster

The Chinese calendar cycles through 12 animals each year, and 2017 is the year of the Rooster. In addition to each year being associated with an animal, the five elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal) are also tied to specific dates in Chinese element theory. So that means the year of the Fire Rooster comes around once every 60 years.

What does this all mean? It is believed that the sign and element can influence a person’s character. Here’s a helpful chart to learn more about the different characteristics of a Rooster:

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Image source

Now, here are some ways to celebrate the year of the Fire Rooster:

Reunion Dinners

People come home for the Chinese New Year to have what are called reunion dinners with their families. Considered the most meaningful meal of the year, the reunion dinner finds people of all generations seated around the table to enjoy food, reflect on the past year, and share hopes for a prosperous new year.

Decorations

Red is the main color for decorations, as it stands for happiness and good fortune. From lanterns and couplets to flags and pictures, red is the dominating color for homes, businesses, municipal streets, and in parades and festivals. Because 2017 is the Year of the Rooster, you’ll also find a lot of photos, paintings, dolls and decorations featuring this bird.

Parades and Festivals

Cultural celebrations are a big part of the Chinese New Year. Fireworks, dragon and lion dances, music, parades, lanterns, imperial performances and local food can be found as part of temple fairs and festivals. Go father into North China and you’ll witness performances of the Rice Sprout Song, a traditional Chinese dance highlighted by performers dressed in brightly-colored garb.

The practice of setting off firecrackers is a popular one as the New Year hits. First, it’s customary to set off one string of small ones, then three big ones which welcome in the new year and all the prosperity it will bring with it. The louder, the luckier, especially for those who own businesses.

Red Envelopes

Gift giving is a popular form of expression during Chinese New Year. The most popular gift to give is cash, of course, presented within a red envelope. Given mostly to children and seniors, red envelopes with money inside symbolize good luck and fortune for the whole year through.

Food

Food is a central part of any celebration, and that’s no different with Chinese New Year. Each type of food has a particular meaning. Common foods you’ll find during parties and celebrations include fish (which symbolizes surplus of money and good fortune), dumplings, spring rolls, rice cakes, and sweet rice balls.

Prayer

Going to temple to pray is yet another important practice during Chinese New Year. For example, Longhua Temple in Shanghai happens to be the city’s largest and attracts huge amounts of worshippers particularly during this time.

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