At 12:01am on February 7, 2008 the Chinese World will usher in the Year of The Rat (some translations say "The Year of the SHU"). At that point the year 4706 will begin on the Chinese calendar.
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday of the year for the Chinese. The Chinese will settle all the debts they can, buy oranges for good luck and kumquat trees to decorate their homes, and clean the house. There will be a family feast, and the older people will give little red packets of luck money (ang pau) to the youngsters. Usually there is a parade, including lion and dragon dances, stilt walkers, floats and acrobats. And there is noise: fireworks at midnight, gongs, drums and cymbals at the parade. Doorways get a fresh coat of paint and the windows get decorated with paper cut outs. Happiness, wealth, and long life are the primary themes.
Many families will play cards and board games on the evening of the Chinese New Year's eve while they wait for midnight. Every light in the house is traditionally left on. Early the next morning, the red money packets are given out. Then people go door to door to wish their neighbors and relatives a prosperous new year.
Fifteen days later the lantern festival marks the end of the month-long New Year season.
The Chinese are not the only people who celebrate the holiday. The Koreans, Tibetans, and many other Asians keep the holiday. In Vietnam the holiday is called Tet.
Happy Chinese New Year to one and all. For you, who live in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, United States, Vancouver, Australia or any other places in the world, Happy Chinese New Year once again!
Have a safe, and prosperous year ahead. I wish all my Chinese (speaking) readers a Happy Chinese New Year whether you are speaking Mandarin: "Gong Xi Fa Cai" or Cantonese: "Kung Hei Fat Choi"!