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

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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.

year of the sheep

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 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 manager@shanghaiprops.com 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!

oxfam
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 manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties “Expat Agents Speak Your Language”.