09 February 2005

Year of the Rooster

Yesterday morning, there was an unusual traffic at a street leading to a wet market near my place. It was unusual for a Tuesday morning but when I realized it was Chinese New Year's Eve, I corrected myself. This was usual for a Chinese New Year.

There were so many Chinese and Filipino-Chinese buyers queuing and crowding the fruit section of the market, buying fruits like oranges and ponkan, which are round, and are thought to bring good luck and wealth when displayed in the house.

Since the Chinese calendar is a combination of lunar and solar movements, with a lunar cycle of about 29 days and a solar cycle that makes the Chinese add an extra month once every 7 years, the Chinese New Year never falls on the same date every year, which is the case with our New Year every first of January.

The Chinese New Year always begins on the New Moon on the first day of the new year. This year, it falls on this date, February 9.

When I think of Chinese New Years, the things that come to mind are --- in no particular order --- tikoy, a variety fruits like oranges, ponkan, grapes, and apples, the Chinese lion dance in Binondo, and the Chinese red envelope (known here as Lai-See or Hong-Bao) where they put money, also for good luck.

The Filipino-Chinese here also observe rituals like:

  • Displaying and wearing red things with Chinese characters because they bring good things like Chewroh-Pin'an and K'ng Huat for peace and prosperity.

  • Keeping all cleaning equipment like dustpans and brooms inside a red cloth during New Year's Eve, for fear of driving away whatever good fortune might come.

  • If one wishes to be very rich, he has to prepare a Wealth Basket, consisting of rice and a red envelope buried in it containing all money denominations. The Chinese believe that placing this beside a mirror will double the money coming in for the year. The day after New Year, all family member should cook and eat the rice in the basket.

  • All debts must be paid before New Year's day.

Curious what the year of the green wooden rooster holds for you this year? Have fun and click here to find out.

If you did all these, and still no good fortune came your way, don't despair. Think optimistically. What happens with your life has nothing to do with these rituals. This is my personal belief. Life is what you make it. Work hard, and pray to God often.

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