To welcome in the New Year, the streets of Hong Kong transform into Chinese New Year buzz, full of red, gold, and orange to signify happiness and wealth. Red and pink ceramic rabbits pop up in the shop windows to toast 2011 as the year of the rabbit, bright signs stating ?Gung hay fat choy? (meaning ?May you become prosperous? in Cantonese) are painted on billboards, pink and gold lanterns are strung from every available structure, and oranges and tangerines are ever present to represent good health and long life.
Chinese New Year serves as a time to celebrate new a beginning, ushering out the old and welcoming in the new. The holiday is typically spent celebrating with family and provides an opportunity to be careful and selective in your actions and to wish good fortune to those whom are meaningful in your life. Prior to New Year?s Day, everyone is required to pay all debts, resolve family and business differences, clean their home, and purchase new outfits, particularly for children, in the colors of red and orange. In essence, the days before serve as a cleanse before the New Year begins.
On New Year?s Eve, families come together to cook, eat, and especially acknowledge the presence of ancestors, whom are said to be responsible for the fortunes of the future generation. At midnight, all windows and doors are opened to let go of the old year. Unmarried women and children are given red envelopes with money and children honor their elders with gifts of money as a sign of respect and good fortune. The celebration continues on New Year?s Day, as families visit one another to pay their respects.
While the decorations and celebrations are an immediate attraction, it is the meaning behind the Chinese New Year that provides for a dynamic and meaningful holiday, one that should be celebrated by all.
January 31, 2011
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