Chinese New Year: Year of the Sheep

The Year of the Sheep will see the usual billions of fireworks set off to celebrate its arrival and as the New Year’s dawn arises, a thin haze of smoke will still remain in the streets as if there were a war the night before. This February 19th, 2015 is the Chinese New Year day and New Year’s Eve is all about family, food and fireworks!! If you currently live in China and have never experienced a Chinese New Year, you are in for one enormous treat so grab some earplugs and a camera and leave your Shanghai apartment and enjoy one of the biggest fireworks festivities you will ever see in your life.

Chinese New Year has some of the same traditions as Western New Year, just without the obligatory countdown. Most Chinese stay up all night with their family, eat loads of traditional dishes, play cards and watch popular variety styled TV shows.  Many choose to set off fireworks and firecrackers throughout the day and evening so if you live in a crowded area don’t plan on sleeping.  If you do want to get some shut eye make sure you fill your ears with a good set of plugs as the sound of firecrackers will be heard all night long and days and nights after. This holiday period is traditionally a 15 day event however the time off work is usually 3 to 7 days.

History

There is a story behind Chinese New Year, the legend says a wild demon named nian or (year) would come at the end of every year to terrorize the local villagers. The legend says that the villagers were able to scare off the demon by using loud noises and bright lights such as fire crackers.

New Years Eve Dinner

This is the most important meal of the year. Chinese New Year’s Eve is on January 18th. This is the holiday where everyone returns to their hometowns to have a dinner. This year is the Year of the Sheep, if you were born in the year of the Sheep you are supposed to wear all Red on this day including underwear. In Northern China, the two main dishes are fish and dumplings. The family traditionally sits together and watches TV while making dumplings. A coin is sometimes hidden in a dumpling; whoever gets the dumpling is believed to have good luck for the upcoming year. They eat fish because there is a Chinese idiom that says 年年有余 which means to have more money than you need. Fish or 鱼 and 余 have the same pronunciation. Others choose to eat noodles because the noodle is a symbol of longevity in some parts of China. At midnight the fireworks begin, the first person in the Family to set off a firework is believed to have good fortune for the year. The other belief is that setting off fireworks wards off the evil spirit. Another tradition of Chinese New year’s is to stay up all night, because of this tradition plan on hearing fireworks for the remaining of the night.

Money

Chinese Families during this time also give the younger generation red envelops or 红包 “hongbao” filled with cash. The amount of cash ranges from a few hundred to tens of thousands depending on the families economic situation. These envelopes are usually given by adults to children. Younger generations are not expected to give money to their parents and older relatives until they are married.

Decorations

Before New Year’s Chinese families will do a complete clean of their apartments. They do this to get rid of the old and welcome the new. After they finish cleaning their apartments, they put up an assortment of decorations. These decorations are always red, since red is a sign of good luck. Some of these decorations include paper cuttings, the Chinese character 福 “fu” displayed upside down and wall hangings. They put the Chinese symbol 福 upside down because the word for upside down is 倒 “dao” and it has the same sound as the word to arrive. 福 meaning is happiness, and good luck. Thus they believe that putting the symbol upside down will bring good luck and happiness. You might also want to put one on your Apartment’s door. Who knows it might bring you luck.

Unlike Westerners, the day of Chinese New Year’s and the entirety of the 15 day festival when greeting people you are expected to say Happy New Years.

The First Few Days of the New Year’s the majority of shops are closed, outside looks more like a ghost town. Do not expect on catching a taxi for a few days, they will also be taking these days off.

Taboos

Most of the traditional superstitions involved with New Year’s are not widely followed however they are worth mentioning.

  • Using scissors or knives on New Year’s Day would cut off good fortune
  • New Year’s day do not wash your hair, washing you hair signifies washing away good luck
  • If you cry on New Year’s Day you will cry the rest of the year
  • Your appearance on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the rest of the Year
  • All debts should be paid on New Year’s Day, and nothing should be lent
  • Sweeping on New Year’s Day signifies sweeping away good fortune
  • It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom
  • No foul language should be used on New Year’s Day, and refrain from using the number 4 since it Chinese it sounds like “to die”
  • Consuming meat or slaughtering animals on New Year’s Day is considered bad luck
  • Preparing food on New Year’s Eve for the upcoming days signifies that you had abundant wealth that is brought over from the previous year

Days Following

After Chinese New Year’s eve the family will not throw away their trash until the second day of the New Year. If you throw away your trash it is believed that you are throwing away your households money.

The first five days of Chinese New Year families go from one relative’s house to another eating dinner.

In traditional China on the 7th day of New Years everyone was considered a year older instead of by their individual birthdays. This tradition is less practiced now since of growing importance of individualization. However some still do follow this tradition.

The 15th day of Spring Festival is also known as Lantern Festival and is a day where Lion Dances can be seen, along with some of the most fascinating lanterns. Kids walk down the streets and pull a rabbit shaped lantern down the street. This day is traditionally a Full moon making it the perfect skyline for lanterns. It is also the second noisiest night of the year when fireworks are once again let off to mark the end of the holiday season.

Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at  +86 13122 810 421 or manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

Chinese Zodiac Symbols

Some people say that you are a match based on your personality and life style, while others might believe you may have been destined to be together. Chinese believe that depending on the year that you were born you fall under a certain animal. Each animal has distinct characteristics. This is one of Chinese traditional beliefs.  On this upcoming Chinese New Year, all people born under the year of the Horse should wear all red including underwear to avoid an unlucky year.

History

Chinese Zodiac’s were originally established in the Han Dynasty (206-220) to count years. They watched each animal’s life style and characteristics. They chose the number 12 since; there are 12 time periods in a day, 12 months in a year, and 12 full moons in a year. Each animal is also associated with an earthly branch.

There is a Chinese folk story that explains the order of the animals.  The Jade emperor announced that 12 animals would be selected for calendar signs; the first 12 animals that arrive would be selected. There are multiple versions of the story, a widely believe one is the day before the race, the cat asked the rat to wake him up early to go to the Jade Emperor. The rat forgot to wake up the cat and ran along. While on the path to the Jade Emperor, other animals started to pass up the rat. The rat saw the Ox and asked if the ox could carry him, the condition was that the rat had to sing to the Ox on the way there. While they were arriving at the Jade Emperor’s palace the rat leaped off the Ox’s back to become the first on the list. This story also explains why the cat hates the rat so much.

You can check out which animal you belong to here.

Below you can check if your animal accurately describes you.

Rat

Strengths – People born during these years are usually smart, wealthy, adaptable and successful.

Weaknesses – These people are usually timid and in the need of courage.  They are not capable of taking a leader position. They are easily guided by their greed and personal interests.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility- Dragon, Monkey, Ox

Avoid – Sheep, Horse, Rabbit

Ox

Strengths- These people are most likely honest, industrious, and cautious. They are strong leaders that have dedication and like to be in charge.

Weaknesses – They are not the most sociable, and are not easily persuaded. They are often very distant.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Rat, Snake, Rooster

Avoid – Horse, Dog, Sheep

Tiger

Strengths- They are usually well respected, are able to express themselves, active and love challenges.

Weaknesses- These people are often self-centered, with a short temper and do not look far into the future. They also come in conflict with authorities and seniors.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Horse, Dog

Avoid – Snake, Monkey

Rabbit

Strengths – These people are usually very sensitive and compassionate. They also have an extremely strong memory. They are very peaceful and hate arguing.

Weaknesses – People born under the Rabbit lack the ability to think deeply before action. They may also pass up many good opportunities.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Sheep, Pig, Dog

Avoid – Rat, Dragon

Dragon

Strengths – People born under the year of the dragon are ambitious, lively, energetic, intelligent and not easily discouraged.

Weaknesses – They can often be arrogant and impatient, and not be able to control their moods.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Rat, Monkey, Rooster

Avoid – Ox, Rabbit, Dog

Snake

Strengths- People born under the sign of the snake are usually financially savvy and do not have to worry about money. They are also wise and good tempered.

Weaknesses – They often doubt others, and are very suspicious. They prefer to rely on themselves.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Ox, Rooster

Avoid – Pig, Tiger

Horse

Strengths – They have great communication skills and want to be the center of attention. They are cheery and like large groups and entertainment

Weaknesses – These people may often not listen to advice. They are also quickly to jump on the newest trends and lack a deep enjoyment. They are often wasteful and are not able to handle money well.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility- Tiger, Sheep, Dog

Avoid – Rat, Ox, Rabbit

Sheep

Strengths – People born under the sign of the sheep often are clever, kind hearted, and have a deep passion for art and religion.

Weaknesses – These people are often moody and pessimistic. They can also be indecisive and puzzled about life.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility- Rabbit, Horse, Pig

Avoid – Ox, Dog

Monkey

Strengths – People born under the year of the Monkey are quick witted, lively, and excellent problem solvers. Have a strong desire for knowledge and great memories

Weaknesses- They easily feel jealous and suspicious. They also are quick to look down upon others.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility- Rat, Dragon, Snake

Avoid- Tiger, Pig

Rooster

Strengths- People born under the year of the rooster are quick thinkers, honest, warm hearted and capable.  They often have a quick mind and hot temper.

Weaknesses – They are often quick to change passions. They also believe they are always right. Often narrow minded and vain

Zodiac Sign Compatibility- Ox, Dragon, Snake

Avoid- Rat, Rabbit, Dog

Dog

Strengths – People born under the year of the dog are often faithful to their career and love life’s. They are able to keep secrets. They are also very straightforward.

Weaknesses – These people can be sometimes distant and cold. They are also known for their sharp tongues.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Tiger, Rabbit, Horse

Avoid- Ox, Dragon, Sheep, Rooster

Pig

Strengths – People born under the pig often have a clam appearance and strong heart. Often honest and frank and are not afraid of difficulties and problems.

Weaknesses – They are too trusting and can easily be tricked.  They are also very impulsive and not able to communicate well with others

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Sheep, Rabbit

Avoid – Snake, Monkey

Notes

When going out in China, don’t be afraid to ask them what animal they are. 你的属相是什么(Ni de shuxiang shi shenme). It just may help you find your soul mate or avoid someone that you were destined to hate.

Adrienne black top - small

Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at  +86 13122 810 421 or  manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

Chinese New Year: The Year of The Horse

The Year of the Horse will see the usual billions of fireworks set off to celebrate its arrival and as the New Year’s dawn arises, a thin haze of smoke will still remain in the streets as if there were a war the night before. This January 31st, 2014 is the Chinese New Year day and New Year’s Eve is all about family, food and fireworks!!. If you currently live in China and have never experienced a Chinese New Year, you are in for one enormous treat so grab some earplugs and a camera and leave your Shanghai apartment and enjoy one of the biggest fireworks festivities you will ever see in your life.

image

Chinese New Year has some of the same traditions as Western New Year, just without the obligatory countdown. Most Chinese stay up all night with their family, eat loads of traditional dishes, play cards and watch popular variety styled TV shows.  Many choose to set off fireworks and firecrackers throughout the day and evening so if you live in a crowded area don’t plan on sleeping.  If you do want to get some shut eye make sure you fill your ears with a good set of plugs as the sound of firecrackers will be heard all night long and days and nights after. This holiday period is traditionally a 15 day event however the time off work is usually 3 to 7 days.

History

There is a story behind Chinese New Year, the legend says a wild demon named nian or (year) would come at the end of every year to terrorize the local villagers. The legend says that the villagers were able to scare off the demon by using loud noises and bright lights such as fire crackers.

New Years Eve Dinner

This is the most important meal of the year. Chinese New Year’s Eve is on January 30th.This is the holiday where everyone returns to their hometowns to have a dinner. This year is the Year of the Horse, if you were born in the year of the Horse you are supposed to wear all Red on this day including underwear. In Northern China, the two main dishes are fish and dumplings.  The family traditionally sits together and watches TV while making dumplings. A coin is sometimes hidden in a dumpling; whoever gets the dumpling is believed to have good luck for the upcoming year. They eat fish because there is a Chinese idiom that says 年年有余 which means to have more money than you need. Fish or鱼and 余 have the same pronunciation. Others choose to eat noodles because the noodle is a symbol of longevity in some parts of China. At 12:00 the fireworks begin, the first person in the Family to set off a firework is believed to have good fortune for the year. The other belief is that setting off fireworks wards off the evil spirit. Another tradition of Chinese New year’s is to stay up all night, because of this tradition plan on hearing fireworks for the remaining of the night.

Money

Chinese Families during this time also give the younger generation red envelops filled with cash. The amount of cash ranges from a few hundred to tens of thousands depending on the families economic situation. These envelopes are usually given by adults to children. Younger generations are not expected to give money to their parents and older relatives until they are married.

Decorations

Before New Year’s Chinese families will do a complete clean of their apartments. They do this to get rid of the old and welcome the new. After they finish cleaning their apartments, they put up an assortment of decorations. These decorations are always red, since red is a sign of good luck. Some of these decorations include paper cuttings, the Chinese character福 displayed upside down and wall hangings. They put the Chinese symbol 福 upside down because the word for upside down is 倒 and it has the same sound as the word to arrive. 福meaning is happiness, and good luck. Thus they believe that putting the symbol upside down will bring good luck and happiness. You might also want to put one on your Apartment’s door. Who knows it might bring you luck.

Unlike Westerners, the day of Chinese New Year’s and the entirety of the 15 day festival when greeting people you are expected to say Happy New Years.

The First Few Days of the New Year’s the majority of shops are closed, outside looks more like a ghost town. Do not expect on catching a Taxi for a few days, they will also be taking these days off.

Taboos

Most of the traditional superstitions involved with New Year’s are not widely followed however they are worth mentioning.

  • Using scissors or knives on New Year’s Day would cut off good fortune
  • New Year’s day do not wash your hair, washing you hair signifies washing away good luck
  • If you cry on New Year’s Day you will cry the rest of the year.
  • Your appearance on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the rest of the Year
  • All debts should be paid on New Year’s Day, and nothing should be lent
  • Sweeping on New Year’s Day signifies sweeping away good fortune
  • It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom.
  • No foul language should be used on New Year’s Day, and refrain from using the number 4 since it Chinese it sounds like “to die”
  • Consuming meat or slaughtering animals on New Year’s Day is considered bad luck.
  • Preparing food on New Year’s Eve for the upcoming days signifies that you had abundant wealth that is brought over from the previous year.

Days Following

After Chinese New Year’s eve the family will not throw away their trash until the second day of the New Year. If you throw away your trash it is believed that you are throwing away your households money.

On February 3rd at Midnight families go outside and set off fireworks to bring good luck.

The first five days of Chinese New Year families go from one relative’s house to another eating dinner.

In traditional China on the 7th day of New Years everyone was considered a year older instead of by their individual birthdays. This tradition is less practiced now since of growing importance of individualization. However some still do follow this tradition.

The 15th day of Spring Festival is also known as Lantern Festival and is a day where Lion Dances can be seen, along with some of the most fascinating lanterns. Kids walk down the streets and pull a rabbit shaped lantern down the street. This day is traditionally a Full moon making it the perfect skyline for lanterns. It is also the second noisiest night of the year when fireworks are once again let off to mark the end of the holiday season.

Adrienne black top - small

Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at  +86 13122 810 421 or  manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

Fireworks in Shanghai

The Year of the Horse is nearly upon us and it’s time to join in the week long celebrations. One of the most exciting times of the festivities is undoubtedly the spectacular firework displays throughout the city in New Year’s Eve. To be part of this you will need to arm yourself with the latest Fireworks Shanghai has to offer to not only help mark the  Chinese New Year but to ward off the evil demon “Nian” (year) . If you don’t know where to buy Fireworks in Shanghai, don’t worry I’m here to help.

Due to regulations and safety concerns in a huge metropolis like Shanghai the seller is legally required to be licensed by the government. If you don’t go to a small shady location or a street stall the fireworks your purchase should be pretty safe. So don’t be afraid to buy some fireworks and help light up the sky outside your Shanghai Apartment!

Types

There are 9 prominent types of fireworks that you can buy. I’m not a Firework specialist so I am not sure how to translate the Characters but I will post pics of what their unique specialties are so you can decide yourself which explosive you want play with.

  1. 喷花类 (pen1hua1)This firework shoots into the sky then explodes leaving a ball of fiery rain.
  2. image
  3.  旋转类(xuan2zhuan3) These are spinning fireworks.image
  4.  升空类 After it explodes, this firework shoots more particles higher up.image
  5.  吐珠类 (tu3zhu1) This is similar to a roman candle.image
  6.  线香类 (xian4xiang1) This is a tube that you light on fire with similar effects of a sparkler.image
  7. 地面礼花类 (di4mian4 li3hua1) These are placed on the ground and shoot into the sky.
  8. image
  9. 烟雾类 (yan1wu4) These shoot a colorful smoke cloud into the air.image
  10. 造型玩具类(Small toy like fireworks that usually move or have an action)image
  11. 小礼花弹类 These are extremely small fireworks that have different styles of explosions, usually smaller than 38mm. I am not going to waste your time with a picture.

Where to find Fireworks in Shanghai

This is the question that has been on everyone’s mind in the past weeks. Without knowing the Chinese Characters for fireworks you may have a hard time finding a shop. Luckily there are a few shops around Shanghai. You can look up 上海烟花专卖店 to find ones close to you. The list below I have gathered from google and baidu

411 Zhijiang West Rd, Zhabei, Shanghai, China

China, 上海市闸北区西宝兴路930号 ‎(West Baoxing Road, Zhabei, Shanghai, China.

8 Changchun Branch Rd, Hongkou, Shanghai, China

2922 Zhenbei Rd, Putuo, Shanghai, China

119 Jinbang Rd, Changning, Shanghai, China ‎

China, 上海市浦东新区博山路10 ‎ (10 boshan road, Pudong, Shanghai China).

659 Pusan Rd, Pudong, Shanghai, China

China, 上海市徐汇区宛平南路278号 ‎ ( 278 South Wanping Road, Xuhui Shanghai.)

China, 上海市闸北区陈家宅路65号 ‎(65 Chen jia zhai, Zhabei Shanghai)

China, 上海市长宁区武夷路486号 ‎(486 WuYi road, Changning, Shanghai)

311 Liuying Rd, Zhabei, Shanghai, China ‎

China, 上海杨浦区国和路 490号, (490 Guo He road, Yangpu Shanghai)

Side Notes

If you plan on staying in China for awhile, I would suggest that you buy your fireworks in advance for Fourth of July. The majority of the firework shops stop selling fireworks in February and March, making it extremely hard to find fireworks. And please take extreme care with using them as injuries can easily occur. But most of all HAVE FUN!

Adrienne black top - small

Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at  +86 13122 810 421 or  manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties