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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.

year of the sheep

Below you can check if your animal accurately describes you.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

Chinese New Year in Shanghai 2015

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, has been celebrated for over 4,000 years. It is the most important and traditional festival that China celebrates each year and it can be compared to celebrating both Christmas and Easter combined into one! It is a very special time where Chinese make a great trek across the country to return to their hometowns to spend time with their families. It comes on the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar and lasts for half a month. This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 19th where you will hear and see millions of fireworks exploding throughout Shanghai culminating in an amazing crescendo at mid night where the city skyline literally disappears from all the smoke.

lunar new year

For Chinese New Year 2015, China will welcome the Year of the Goat (or the Sheep/Ram). Among the Chinese animals these are said to be some of the most favored because they are gentle and calm, yet very powerful through perseverance.
In order to celebrate the Year of the Goat, at Shanghai Properties we have our own “Goat Sale”. Working with OxFam Unwrapped we can help newly arrived expats AND more needy people in developing countries. Oxfam Unwrapped charity gifts transform the lives of people living in poverty by providing education, clean water and other living essentials.

When you use our agency to find your new home or refer a friend, we will use some of our commission to buy “a goat” or another precious gift of your choice from Oxfam Unwrapped to give to a family in need.

To take advantage of this opportunity just mail your housing needs and contact details directly to Adrienne Farrelly at and she’ll be in touch soon to explain how you can help the whole global community.

You can view some of the gifts to give here. These are examples of gifts to help a family in need:
– Water for a School
– Women’s Empowerment
– Water for a Family
– Hygiene Kit
– A Well
– Literacy Classes
– Orphan Care
& even more!

Adrienne and her team at Shanghai Properties wish you and your family a very Happy Chinese New Year and we hope that if you are in Shanghai during the Spring Festival, you have a great time celebrating!

adrienne farrellyAdrienne 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 Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties “Expat Agents Speak Your Language”.

New Year Resolutions 2015

The New Year is upon us once again, and with it, brings feelings of hope and renewal with a desire to make changes in our lives for the better. What are your New Year resolutions for 2015? What do you hope to accomplish or achieve this year?


Here are some tips to help you make it through the year with your New Year resolutions firmly by your side. First let’s start with the most common of New Year resolutions.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and Healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

How to achieve your goals

Goals are hard to achieve and even harder when abstract and immeasurable. Instead of wanting to “Enjoy life to the Fullest”, figure out what it exactly means to you. Is it visiting different countries, going out more or seeing your friends? If so, try to make the goal more specific such as “visit 2 countries this year”. How often do you hear “I really lived life to the fullest this year”? This was number four on the most set goals in 2014. Many successful practitioners use SMART goals for helping their clients achieve their goals.

Specific – who, what, when, where, why and how
Measurable – when will you known it is done
Attainable – is it realistic?
Relevant – How does it fit into your life now?
Time-based – When will you achieve your goal, what’s the time line?


For example, if your goal is to lose weight, be specific on how much you want to lose and how you will lose it. It must be measurable! Looking in the mirror every couple weeks and guessing your loss won’t help you stay on track.


Make sure the goal is realistic. If you weigh 600 pounds and are trying to lose 500 in a year to become a bikini model, seriously, it is not going to happen unless you amputate or choose liposuction. Ask yourself if losing weight is relevant to your life right now and is it something you are able to do? Are you really driven to lose weight?

Time based

Goals need to be time-based. You can set miniature goals every couple months, such as lose 10 pounds by March.


Make sure you tell people about your goals. Having people there to support you will increase your chances of succeeding. If your goal is to lose weight, find a workout partner. You will feel as if you are obliged to show up, otherwise you will be letting someone down. If your goal is to help others, commit the time to volunteer for organizations.


Always ensure your goals are positive. If your goal is to be a better student, don’t word your goal as “miss only 2 scheduled classes” word it as “attend all classes”. The wording of a goal plays an important part. If you have worded the goal negatively, there is a negative association with the goal. For example if you partied last night, and you wake up groggy, you will say to yourself “it is only one class”. This kind of thinking leads to a snowball effect. After you have missed 2 classes, you will have the mindset that you have already missed two another one won’t make a difference.

Ignore the goals focus on the process

Goals are always accomplished by hard work and diligence. Simply setting a goal won’t make it happen. You must develop a process to make that goal happen. Simply setting a goal like “to learn a foreign language” is just a thought. However, putting in motion your study plan is how you will learn that language. Putting aside scheduled time each week will get the job done. A kid’s goal may not be that he wants to learn math, but since an allotted time each week is set forth for he/she to do so, the child will eventually end up learning it. If you have a goal, you must come up with a process or system to achieve it.

Reward yourself

Make sure that you reward yourself for achieving your goals and mini goals. This will keep you on the track. Looking at kids, you can see how a little reward here and there can make the world of difference in the child’s participation. You can watch a small kid work 10 times harder for a teacher, if the teacher offers a sticker. This sticker will without a doubt be lost before the kid returns home. As adults, not much has changed. Our sticker is an hour of free time a trip to a massage parlor. Rewards for achieving miniature goals do not have to be big. Having someone else verify the completion of these goals will limit any cheating. After achieving your one-year resolution, have something big in mind or something that you will truly look forward to.

Choose 1 goal!

Make sure you limit the amount of goals you have set. Goals can be compared to football players. Tackling one football player is a hell of a lot easier than trying to tackle a whole team at once. The more goals that you have set the more confused you will be on where to begin. You will immediately be neglecting goals, from lack of time. Make sure you choose the goal you want to achieve and prioritize it. Trying to prioritize too many things at once is a recipe for destruction.


Did you know?
The University of Scranton has done some research on goal setting. People who explicitly set goals are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than someone who has not explicitly set a goal. You can check out other fun new year resolution statistics here.

Another interesting post with fun facts about New Years Resolutions can be found here.

At Shanghai Properties, our 2014 New Years Resolution was to help many expats find their dream homes in Shanghai, and we succeeded! As 2014 has come to a close, we want to give a big THANK YOU to all our followers and loyal clients. We had a great year at Shanghai Properties and it wouldn’t of been the same without you!


In addition, we have decided to extend our Holiday “Goat” Sale until the Chinese New Year (which is the year of the goat coincidentally!), so make sure to spread the word. Choose to rent through us, and with Oxfam we can both help a family in need this holiday.

adrienne-black-top-smallAdrienne 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 Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

New Year’s Traditions in Other Countries

Many countries have their own unique traditions of welcoming a new year. The Chinese hang or paint red characters on their doors that symbolize happiness and good fortune, Danish break piles of dishes to symbolize friendship and brotherhood, Brazilians eat dishes with many legumes which symbolizes wealth and prosperity, Americans celebrate with champagne and football, and Japanese traditionally eat long noodles to symbolize longevity. However, Scottish New Year traditions are still quite famous and widely practiced today, called Hogmanay.

The Scottish New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay or Night of the Candle. Special foods such as haggis, three-cornered biscuits, cheese, shortbread, oatcakes, currant loaf and scones are exchanged as gifts and enjoyed along with the best cold cure of all, the water of life, Scottish Whisky!
An integral part of the Hogmanay partying is to offer warm hospitality to family, friends and strangers and wish everyone a Guid New Year. The simple and basic underlining purpose is to clean away the vestiges of the past year and welcome the New Year on a happy note.

Days before the New Year, Scots clean and scrub their houses including emptying fireplaces of coal. A purification ritual is typically performed by burning juniper branches, which are then carried through the house to remove any bad omens, germs or lingering diseases.

hogmanay cleaning
Another important aspects of Hogmanay is the foot footer tradition, where the first person to set foot into your home on New Year’s day will decide the family’s luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, this person should be male, tall and dark-haired because when a blonde stranger arrived on your doorstep during Viking days, trouble would soon follow. The first footer must bring a lump of coal for the empty fireplace, shortbread or a black bun slice and whisky to eat and drink and salt to symbolize fortune.

On New Year’s Eve, it is also custom to have large torch and bonfire ceremonies. Even in modern times, some magical firework displays and torchlight parades are quite similar to ancient Scottish Hogmanay pagan parties. Traditionally, townspeople will dress in cattle hides and run around the village being hit by sticks. Festivities would also include bonfire lightings, rolling blazing tar barrels down hills and tossing torches. By doing this, evil spirits are warded off so a fresh year can begin.

In fact, one of the most spectacular fire ceremonies takes place in Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen on the North East coast of Scotland. Huge fireballs, weighing up to 20lbs are lit and then swung around on five-feet long metal poles. Around 60 men carry them as they are marched up and down the streets. The fireballs are believed to consume any remaining evil spirits.


No matter where you are from or where you are right now, we at Shanghai Properties hope you enjoy your New Years and New Years Eve 2015 with your own special traditions! 🙂 Cheers to a New Year!

adrienne-black-top-smallAdrienne 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 Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

Shanghai New Year Events 2015 in your Neighbourhood

Am sure you’ll want to head out to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Shanghai and see in 2015. As we know, taxi’s are rare as hen’s teeth on New Year’s Eve so the team at Shanghai Properties have put together a helpful list of local restaurants, bars and clubs in your neighbourhood so you can easily “walk” to and perhaps “crawl” home in the wee hours of the New Year and not spend your New Year morning furiously trying to flag down fully laden cabs.

Check out below locations for some fabulous local New Year’ s Eve 2015 dinners and parties:

 new year party




Paulaner Braeuhaus Xin Tian Di

Jean Georges

Chi Q

Waldorf Astoria Long Bar

Light Salt

Bar Rouge

Le Royal Meridian

Mr & Mrs Bund

Three on the Bund

Boxing Cat Brewery

Peninsula Hotel


Windows Scoreboard

Just on the Bund

Windows Garage


Mexo at the Bund


Grand Brasserie


Whampoa Club



The 15151 West




Windows Too

The Spot


10 Corso Com
new years drinks



Paulaner Braeuhaus Expo

Park Hyatt Shanghai

Vue Bar

Kerry Hotel

Pudong Shang ri la



Kee Club

Paulaner Braeuhaus


Cs Shanghai

The Apartment

Liquid Laundry

MAO Livehouse

Kee Club Shanghai





Happy New Years from Shanghai Properties! 🙂

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 Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties