The Chinese New Year will bring about much-needed peace and gentleness to our lives, says Jenny Critchlow.
Chinese New Year is once again upon us and 3rd February 2011 hails the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. New Year is the festival which, in Chinese culture, is a time to celebrate with family, give and receive gifts and feast. So what has this new year got in store for you, and how can you join in the celebrations? Follow our guide to the Chinese New Year for all you need to know.
The Year of the Rabbit: What to expect
The Year of the Rabbit will bring more focus to your internal life rather than your external life. The year just passed was the year of the Tiger, and as many of us found out it was ferocious with plenty of bite. The Year of the Rabbit will bring some much welcomed quiet times to retreat to our burrows and contemplate the changes that have gone on around us.
A Rabbit year is one where gentle softness is preferred to the sharpening of claws, and diplomacy and kindness will prevail. In fact if you imagine a rabbit gambolling in the sun, caring less about the future and putting worries away, than you may have glimpsed a vision of the year ahead.
This year is all about peace and tranquility. Discretion, calm, rest and contemplation are the watch words for this year.
Chinese New Year is known as the Spring festival, because it starts from the beginning of Spring.
The celebrations last for 15 days, from the new moon on the first day of the new year to the full moon.
Traditionally it is a time for honouring heaven and earth, the household gods and the ancestors.
Before the beginning of the celebrations, Chinese homes are cleaned from top to bottom to sweep away any bad luck left from the previous year.
Red is a lucky colour in Chinese culture and wearing something red is meant to ward off evil spirits.
The end of the New Year is marked by the Festival of Lanterns where singing, dancing and lighting of the lanterns take place.
29th January 1903 to 15th February 1904
14th February 1915 to 2nd February 1916
2nd February 1927 to 22nd January 1928
19th February 1939 to 7th February 1940
6th February 1951 to 26th January 1952
25th January 1963 to 12th February 1964
11th February 1975 to 30th January 1976
29th January 1987 to 16th February 1988
16th February 1999 to 4th February 2000
3rd February 2011 to 22nd January 2012
Rabbit people are known for their good taste and diplomacy. They are artistic, strong willed and lucky in business. It has been said that the rabbit is one of the most fortunate signs to be born under, so lucky you if you’re a rabbit!
Rabbits believe strongly in friends and family and are warm, generous and kind. They like the company of others and are calm and considerate in a crisis.
However a rabbit would rather retreat than confront a difficult situation and can run away when frightened.
Rabbits are easily taken advantage of as their natural instinct is to take care of others.
Rabbits can suffer from low confidence and self worth, they keep their feelings to themselves rather than upset others and this can lead to depression and illness.
Rabbits are good communicators and can often mediate successfully between two warring parties.
They are friendly, fun and witty and make excellent friends.
Good careers for rabbits include: lawyer, therapist, doctor, writer or actor.
Throw your own Chinese New Year party
Decorate your party room with banners in the lucky colours red and gold. Paint slogans and sayings on them wishing your guests long life, happiness and prosperity.
Make your own Chinese lanterns by decorating paper bags, weighing them down with sand and lighting from inside with a tea light. You can ask guests to make them and include a New Year wish within the decorations.
You can order from the local Chinese takeaway if you wish, but it might be fun to try your hand at some traditional fare such as sesame chicken. Visit chinesefood.about.com for inspiration.
Ask your guests to dress as their Chinese Zodiac Sign, or wear a traditional costume.
Write predictions for the New Year on slips of paper and hand out to guests as they leave.