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2014-01-30

Happy New Year!

Carolyn B. Edwards

If you're looking for an excuse to have a party before St. Valentine's Day next month, you're in luck! Chinese year 4712, the Year of the Horse, begins on Jan. 31. So, happy new year!
The Chinese calendar is lunar based, so the event is also referred to as the Chinese Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year. In 2014, it runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6. It is traditionally a time of preparing for and welcoming Spring.
Why is this called the Year of the Horse? According to legend, long, long ago, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him for the New Year celebration. Only 12 showed up, so Buddha named a year after each one.
The Chinese believe that people born in horse years are talented and good with their hands, cheerful, perceptive, witty, and good with money.
Red sets the color tone for Chinese New Year. The color symbolizes fire, which drives away bad luck. People wear red clothes, display couplets written on red paper, and give their children money in red envelopes. Cut pictures made from red paper decorate windows. The character "Fu," which means happiness, is cut out of paper and hung on the front door.
Chinese families hold joyful reunions for New Year, enjoying great feasts and fireworks displays.
Houses are given a thorough cleaning and foods are prepared for the family feasts. Each day for a week prior to New Year's Day has its own special activities.
Spring Festival is a positive time, so negative words are taboo. Words relating to "death," "broken," "killing," "ghost," and "sickness" are among those not spoken during conversations.
Having an empty container of rice may mean a year of hunger, taking medicine on New Year's Day may bring on a year of illness.
The fifteenth day of the first Lunar Month is often the time set for the Lantern Festival, parades and the Dragon Dance.
Fish is generally served because it expresses the hope of having a wealthy year.
Get into the spirit of the occasion by attending the Asian festival in San Antonio at the Institute of Texas Cultures Saturday. There will be a wide variety of foods, music and crafts to enjoy at this family friendly event. It's a good way to learn how different Asian ethnic groups celebrate the season.
If you choose a more sedate commemoration of the New Year, a display of oranges and tangerines is believed to bring good luck, especially if you eat them.
Just put on your red dress and enjoy the celebration!