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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival in China - it's a time for new beginnings & looking to the future. People put on new clothes, especially if they're red. There's red underwear in all the stores, along with lots of other red new years gear. I even got myself a pair of red socks for the occasion.

People start the year by hanging bright red banners with good luck sayings on the doors to their homes, & give each other red & gold envelopes with money inside, thereby increasing their favor with the gods - the gods they don't believe in any more.

Chinese culture bases a lot of its traditions on word play. For example, at the new year, people eat fish because the word for fish ( yú) sounds like the word for abundance ( yú).

One of my favorite plays on words is the one pictured here. The character for good fortune is 福, pronounced "fú". Often people hang this character upside down during Spring Festival. The word for upside down is 倒了 dào le, which sounds like the word for arrived: 到了 dào le. So if you hang the good fortune character upside down, then it's "fu dào le" - "fu" is upside down, or good fortune has arrived - a great sentiment for the new year.

Happy New Year to you all! 新年快乐!

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