The Year of the Rat starts February 7th, 2008.
About a week before it is time to start cleaning and decorating and getting flower blossoms. You can and should cut your hair now and sweep your house clean. If you are getting new red clothes, now is also the time. Decide if you will be sending any red round fruits to your teacher(s), or anyone in the community who has been helping you this year. I don't think you can go wrong with flowering bulbs, but do be careful with cut flowers. I know my mother-in-law would find it hard to appreciate mums since they are a funeral flower to her. (She's Cantonese.)
If you want to use calligraphy to decorate your house, learn how to write Fu (luck) at:
www.chinapage.com/word/luck.html and see some Chinese New Year's couplets at:
The Kitchen God has already gone up to report to heaven on how you have done this year (that happens on the 24th of the 12th month). Perhaps you offered him sweet sticky rice first. If you did, was it a sweet bribe so he would remember only the good that you and your family have done? or was it so that his mouth would be stuck shut and he would not be able to give a full report? (To help your children imagine this, ask them what they could say with a mouth full of peanut butter!)
Your children might enjoy learning about getting ready at:
Some of the steps on that site require a Flash plug-in, but not “clean sweep”, “get ready for the parade”, and “eat”.Chinese traditions for welcoming the New Year and creating good fortune in the year ahead.
- Clean! - Clean your home as thoroughly as possible during the days preceding the New Year to sweep away any accumulated bad luck from past years. There is even a specific day to being this deep cleaning!
- Decorate! - Decorate your home in red, the Chinese color for good luck. Doors and window panes are also often painted red, considered to be a lucky color. New door guardians. People also like to hang "fu" the character for good luck and papercuts on doors and windows. (Paper cutting is an ancient Chinese art form dating back to the Han dynasty).
- DO NOT clean your home during the first few days of the New Year. You do not want to risk sweeping away the good luck of the New Year.
- Try to see as many of your family and friends as possible during the New Year celebration to spread good wishes for the coming year.
- Serve and eat as many lucky foods as possible on New Year's day. Start with a whole fish on New Year's Eve - but don't eat it all so there will always be plenty in the year to come. Some are using a whole chicken these days! Long life noodles, all citrus (especially those round and golden!) If you're not adventurous enough to cook Chinese food, most Chinese restaurants offer special New Year menus.
- Don't cry on that day or raise your voice to your children or you'll be setting a tone of discord for the coming year.
- Give out money packets - On New Years day, children receive hong bao or leisee - red packets decorated with gold symbols and filled with "lucky money".
Since this is a blog, the entries are in date order. Does this format support my kind readers navigating around to find what they need? (Comments welcome.)
The Year of the Rooster started February 9th, 2005.
The Year of the Dog started January 29th, 2006.