Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! (sseen nee-ahn kwhy luh)
Follow a dancing dragon down the street. Listen to the popping firecrackers. Scatter your home with Jí Xiáng Huà - auspicious gold couplets of good luck across a red scroll (red for luck, joy, and happiness, and gold for wealth). The verse "peaceful and safe" is popular for entryways. "Always full" is a must for the rice jar.
One winter, more than four thousand years ago, a monster called "Nian" (nee-UHN) attacked a Chinese village. At first, everyone was afraid. Then, they discovered that Nian feared loud noises, the color red, and bright lights. To keep Nian away, the people painted the doors of their houses red. They built fires and set off firecrackers until the beast ran away from the village.
The word "nián" (年) means "year" in Chinese.
Chinese New Year falls somewhere between late January and the middle of February. The ancient farming calendar whose beginning the new year marks is based on the movements on the moon. For the farmers among whom the holiday arose, spring marked the start of a new year. They prepared their fields and cleaned their homes to celebrate the new lunar beginning, and prayed for a good harvest.
Other Asian cultures also use the lunar calendar and celebrate the lunar new year. The Vietnamese call it "tet nguyen dan," or "first morning of the first day of the new year." In Korean, it is "jung whur," or "first month of the new year."
This Chinese New Year officially begins today, January 25th, 2020.
The year 2020 is governed by the white metal element, which emphasizes good judgement and refinement. This is not a year to cut corners! Greater success will come from precision and paying attention to the details.
Every new lunar year is named after one of 12 animals: the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Ram, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and the Pig. People born in each year are believed to possess the characteristic of that year's animal.
2020 is the Year of the Rat – the first of the zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor declared that the sequence of the zodiac signs would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride across the river. Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox.
In ancient Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth, surplus, and fertility.
Those born in the Year of the Rat – 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, and 2020 – are well liked for their wit, energy, optimism, and charm. While intelligent and empathetic, they can be stubborn in their opinions. Equally, they are practical and adaptable, and finish what they set out to do. Despite their inherent kindness, they have a hot temper and may pick the wrong words in certain situations. They are creative and independent, but can lack the courage required for leadership. Though successful, they're content with a more quiet and peaceful life. They like hoarding (saving), but are not prone to haggling and can waste money on things others believe unnecessary. Rats would be wise not to invest with a close friend. Their lucky colors are blue, gold, and green; and their lucky numbers, 2 and 3. Colors and numbers to avoid are yellow, brown, 5, and 9.
恭禧發財 Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái! (goong ssee fah tsigh) Wishing you great prosperity!
The phrase literally translates to "wishing prosperity." Note that there are no pronouns needed in New Year's greeting phrases.
And if someone greets you this way, it's fun to respond with "Hóng Bāo Ná Lái" (紅包拿來) – hoong bow nah lie. "May I have the red envelope, please." It is tradition for parents to give cash gifts in red (lucky) envelopes to their children. So "hong bao" is a cash gift or lucky money.