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Today's Chinese New Year so say "Gung Hey Fat Choy" to everyone in your office today - it means "Happy New Year" in Chinese. We think...
The Chinese Lunar calendar is the oldest calendar in the world, dating from 2600BC, the time of Emperor Huang Ti who introduced it.
Like our Western calendar, The Chinese Lunar Calendar is a yearly one, but the start of the Chinese lunar year depends on the cycles of the moon so it can happen any time between late January and the middle of February.
The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality, saying: "This is the animal that hides in your heart."
Happy Chinese New Year to all our Chinese friends including our travel news sponsors Taipan Chinese Restaurant in the Theatre District where they are celebrating with a special Lion Dance banquet tonight which is now sold out.
Lucy Ellis is a monkey! Which animal are you?
Rabbit 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999
Dragon 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000
Snake 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001
Horse 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002
Sheep 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003
Monkey 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004
Rooster 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005
Dog 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006
Boar 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007
Rat 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008
Ox 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009
Tiger 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010
RABBIT - Rabbits are affectionate, co-operative and pleasant, with lots of friends. But they can get too sentimental and seem superficial. Ideal careers areas include law, diplomacy or the stage. Famous Rabbits: Germaine Greer, Neil Sedaka, Francis Ford Coppola, Nanette Newman
DRAGON - Dragons tend to be popular individuals who are always full of life and enthusiasm, with a reputation for being fun-loving. They make good priests, artists and politicians. Famous Dragons: Vidal Sassoon, Fats Domino, Bob Monkhouse, Jimmy Tarbuck, Al Pacino
SNAKE - People born in the year of the Snake are romantic and deep-thinking, wise and charming, although they tend to dismiss others too quickly and are a bit stingy with money. Ideal jobs include teaching or psychiatry. Famous Snakes: Jean Simmons, Val Doonican, Sir Roger Banister, Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond, Paddy Ashdown,Vivienne Westwood, Bob Dylan
HORSE - If you are born in the Year of the Horse then you are amazingly hard working and very independent. Although you are intelligent and friendly, you can sometimes be a bit selfish. Careerwise you would make a good scientist or poet. Famous Horses: Ian Cuthbertson, Robert Wagner, Rolf Harris, Helmit Kohl, Clint Eastwood,Barbara Streisand, John Thaw, Aretha Franklin
SHEEP - Those born in the Year of the Sheep are said to be charming, elegant and artistic, who like material comforts. A bit of a worrier they also have a tendency to complain about things. Jobs as actors, gardeners or beachcombers would suit. Famous Sheep: Gene Hackman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Leonard Nimoy, Prunella Scales,John Major, George Harrison
MONKEY - If you are born in the Year of the Monkey, you are very intelligent, well-liked by everyone, and will have success in any field you choose. Lucky old you! Famous Monkeys: Lucy Ellis, Sacha Distel, Elisabeth Taylor, Omar Sherif, Jimmy Page, Roger Daltrey, George Lucas
ROOSTER - The sign of the Rooster indicates a person who is hard-working and definite about their decisions. Roosters are not afraid to speak their minds and can therefore sometimes come across as boastful. They make good restaurant owners and world travellers. Famous Roosters: Michael Aspel, Yoko Ono,Rod Stewart, Mia Farrow, Eric Clapton
DOG - Dogs are honest and faithful to those they love but they tend to worry too much and find fault with others. They make ideal secret agents or business people. Famous Dogs: Shirley MacLain, Henry Cooper, Slyvia Sims,Dolly Parton, Liza Minelli Jane Asher
BOAR - People born in the Year of the Boar are honest and tolerant and make good friends, but tend to expect the same from everyone else, and more often than not they end up disappointed. They thrive in the arts as entertainers. Famous Boars: Bamber Gascoigne, Dudley Moore, David Bowie, Elton John Gerry Rafferty
RAT - Rats are said to be imaginative, charming and very generous to those they love - although they do have a tendency to be quick-tempered and over-critical. They are supposed to make good writers, critics and publicists. Famous rats: Ron Moody, Marlon Brando, Burt Reynolds,Ursula Andress, Englebert Humperdinck
OX - Oxen are born leaders, inspiring confidence in everyone they come into contact with. However, they can be too demanding. Methodical and good with their hands, they make fine surgeons and hairdressers. Famous Oxen: Jack Lemmon, Tony Benn, Charlie Drake, Shirley Bassey, Jack Nicholson
TIGER - Tigers are said to be bold and adventurous, and are bestowed with initiative and charm. However, they have a tendency to be risk takers, making them act before they think about the consequences. They tend to make good bosses, explorers or racing drivers. Famous Tigers: David Bailey, Michael Ball, Stanley Baxter, Chuck Berry, Richard Branson, Mel Brooks, Tom Cruise, Jodie Foster, Elliot Gould, Harriet Harman, Timothy Mo, Bruce Oldfield, Lord David Owen, Jonathan Porrit, Oliver Reed, John Schlesinger, Pam Shriver, Pamela Stephenson.
Celebrations last for 15 days and include:
Decorations - Chinese families decorate their living rooms with vases of pretty blossoms and plants to symbolise new growth and flowers and bamboo symbolise wealth and friendship, colourful lanterns, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. Show bamboo plant.
Dragon dances - typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets., processions, music, lanterns and fireworks. To drive away bad luck. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits. Show examples of dragon.
Special foods are prepared like fish, dumplings and cakes. New Year’s day a meal of a whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance, a chicken for prosperity. The chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life.
Fortune cookies - Sweet biscuit with a message inside e.g. "May you enjoy continuous good health"