The year of the rat
Lunar New Year is approaching fast. This Friday, 24th of January, will be the last day of this year. Saturday will be the first day of the new year, which will be the year of the rat! To most Westerners, a rat doesn’t sound too good. Usually associated with diseases and plagues, most large cities have an endless battle with the animal.
However, in Chinese zodiac signs, the rat isn’t that bad at all. A rat, according to Chinese belief and tradition, rats are smart. They have a quick mind, which means they are responsive to sudden changes in a situation. However, rats also enjoy a quiet life and value peace above all. Lastly, because rats are seen as very fertile, newlywed couples pray to them for children.
Children born in 2020 will be born in the year of the rat. However, the Chinese zodiac signs are a cycle of twelve, which means 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972 and 1960 are also years of the rat.
According to a really cool website on the fun and facts of Chinese New Year, a rat’s favorite colors are blue, gold and green. Lucky numbers are two and three. There are even lucky flowers for Chinese zodiac signs. For the rat, these are lilies, African violets, and valley lilies. If you are curious, check out this website about Chinese New Year. It has an almost unlimited array of facts and interesting reads on zodiac signs.
More customs for New Year
Chinese New Year has a lot of different customs, many of which are not found too predominantly in the West. Have you, for example, heard of 紅包，or red envelopes? Chinese parents give these to their children to pass on good fortune and prosperity. The money inside these envelopes is called 壓歲錢。
How do I say “happy new year” in Chinese?
Depends on where you are or where you come from! In Mandarin-speaking parts of China, people often say the rather informal 新年快樂 (xīn nián kuài lè), though another way of saying is 新年愉快 (xīn nián yú kuài).
However, if you happen to be in Hong Kong, people most often say 恭喜發財。This phrase is built up from the words 恭喜 meaning “congratulations” and 發財 which means something like “to get rich”, or “to have good fortune”.
Chinese love food, so what to eat?
Dumplings! These seem to almost always be eaten in China, but during New Year’s festivities, whoever is making the dumplings hides a coin in one of them. Whoever then eats the dumpling with the coin will be lucky for the next year. Though, be careful not to break your teeth!