Thursday, February 22, 2007

Year of the Pig is Here

This past Saturday, February 18th marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year. (According to, my non-blacklisted source of Wikipedia information, it takes places on the second new moon after the winter solstice. That means it’s usually early-mid February.) As I mentioned earlier, it is one of the three major holidays in China. Everybody on my current project team took the week off. The office gives three days of vacation, although by Chinese standards, that’s considered light. Most factories close for 10 days to give their migrant worker population time to go home.

Chinese New Year is a bit like Christmas, Thanksgiving and western New Year’s Eve all wrapped up in one momentous holiday. New Year’s Eve is celebrated by eating with your family. Chinese people like to eat to begin with, but New Year’s Eve is an occasion to go all out and provide a huge feast with chicken, fish, and nian gao, a type of starchy cake made with rice flour. I spent the holiday in Taiwan with relatives and enjoyed an incredible meal there. Kids enjoy this time of year because they receive the traditional red envelope, bearing “lucky money”.

On the first day of the new year, you may see lion dances, in which people put on the costume of a lion and dance to cymbals. The dance is supposed to bring good luck as we begin a new year. The second day is to be spent with the wife’s family. Since traditional (read: old fashioned) Chinese society is male-dominated, women were supposed to be part of the man’s family once they were married. The second day of the New Year was the time for them to be able to rejoin their own family.

I won’t go into all the details of the holiday, since I don’t really know them. Google it or look it up on Wikipedia if you want to know more. Suffice it to say, it’s a huge celebration that involves lots of food, drinking, gifts of money and candy, and rest. Oh, and text messages.

1 comment:

Phyllis said...

HAPPY BELATED CHINESE NEW YEAR! We ate our nian-gao in Tahoe after a long day of snowboarding! Of course, Ching-an and I were the only ones that reminisced as we ate the sticky stuff. Tom and his family were learning that a new tradition - dipping the nian-goa into egg and frying it for dessert. Turns out, the southern Chinese do not normally partake in the sticky stuff after dinner! They've been missing out. Even our ghetto Ranch 99 version was pretty tasty.