Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái
(恭喜發財) Congratulations and Prosperity!
Chinese New Year has arrived; it lasts for fifteen days. This tradition holds a very special meaning for us since two of our children were born in China. It is an exciting and reflective time in our family. This year we celebrate the second animal to arrive at the Jade Emperor’s party (as Chinese folklore tells it), the serious, patient and hardworking Ox.
2009 is the year of the Yin Earth Ox. According to the Hsia calendar, this year is symbolized by two elements, the earth sitting on the earth, representing a pure earth time – “Yin Earth”. Because earth and earth are like brothers they do not have a birth or destructive relationship with one another. This bodes well for 2009, these elements express a time for peace, harmony, and healing international relationships.
What does the Miller family do during Chinese New Year? Well, anyone who knows me knows that I try not to clean; I don’t want to sweep out the good spirits. I also don’t wash my hair during the first three days of the New Year (good fortune might be washed out). The kids have had their hair cuts, symbolizing fresh starts. We decorate the house, being sure to have the couplets, with messages of good fortune, hung by the doors. Long noodles are eaten along with other lucky foods, such as whole fish and mandarin oranges. The kids delight in passing around the hong bao (red envelopes filled with money or chocolate coins). The auspicious color red is worn (it scares away Nian, the monster, too). We make lanterns, visit friends to spread good wishes for the coming year, and attend and have celebrations. The kids’ favorite event is the lion dance. The performance is fun and powerful.