Happy Chinese New Year! Bird is the Word

by Long Hwa-shu

It is high time to crow!

America has a new president, which marks a new beginning. President Trump has vowed to make America strong again, to bring back jobs, cut taxes, erect the wall, renegotiate trade deals, rebuild the military and the infrastructure. The market has been up and Obamacare is going to be replaced among other things.

This is the Year of the Rooster according to the lunar calendar which begins Saturday, Jan. 28. It supersedes the Year of the Monkey, a year marked by much monkeying around in politics and the presidential election, and the setbacks of America’s prestige aboard.

Rooster people are supposed to be proud, determined, strong with a fighting spirit, passionate and, of course, cocky but caring.

The lunar Chinese calendar runs in a 12-year cycle with each year represented by an animal. Besides rooster, the others are dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, sheep and monkey.

The New Year renews America’s hopes and dreams to reign supreme overseas and be cocky again as a super power. Rooster people are those born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993 and 2005 and, of course, on or after Jan. 28, 2017. By the way, the Chinese word for the year is “ji,” meaning chicken. The rooster is, of course, a chicken. You can call it the Year of the Chicken but rooster sounds a lot better.

Rooster people are supposed to be proud, determined, strong with a fighting spirit, passionate and, of course, cocky but caring. Have you ever seen how a rooster treats his flock of hens? He will let them have a peck first of worms or whatever food he found. In many ways, Donald Trump seems to possess these qualities. Actually, he was born in year the Year of the Dog in 1946. Dog people are loyal, courageous, valiant and trustworthy. By the way, President Obama was born in the Year of the Ox in 1961. Ox people are supposed to be industrious, but cautious and stubborn. You be the judge on both of them.

Among famous people born in the Year of the Rooster: Goldie Hawn, Neil Young, Gene Wilder, Joan Rivers, Jayne Mansfield, Leonard da Vini, Issac Newton, Harry Houdini, Elizabeth Taylor, Ian Fleming, Eleanor Roosevelt, Peter O’Toole, Anton Chekov and Prince Philip.

46402284 - chinese years zodiac calendar. animal sign, rat snake dragon, pig rooster rabbit horse monkey dog tiger. vector illustration
A Chinese zodiac calendar featuring animal signs.  It rotates every twelve years. Many Chinese restaurant’s feature placemats with the zodiac.

The Chinese New Year is celebrated by Chinese everywhere and much of Asia. In China, it is celebrated as the Spring Festival which lasts 15 days. Government offices and stores are closed for three days to enable employees to go home for family reunion. We were in China one year during the New Year. The stores were closed. Unlike Americans who rushed for shopping after Thanksgiving and right before Christmas, the Chinese did their holiday shopping well ahead.

As people rushed home bearing gifts, airlines, trains and buses are packed. With more people owning cars, the roads are jammed. In the streets, firecrackers deafen your ears and at night the sky is lit with fireworks.

Good and abundant food is essential for the New Year celebration, especially for the New Year Eve’s family reunion dinner. It is quite common for the dinner to have 10 to 12 dishes. Even the poor would manage to save enough money for a spread because a bountiful New Year Eve’s dinner portends a prosperous New Year.

An indispensable dish is a whole fish because it surplus. The Chinese word for surplus is pronounced ”yu,” the same as fish. As a tradition, after dinner children are given red envelops containing money. New clothes and shoes are worn on New Year’s Day.

The New Year celebration ends on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival when children are given paper mache lanterns on wheels in various shapes like lotus, rabbit, tiger and, of course, rooster. A small candle is lit inside the lantern.

Dumplings, made of sweet rice flour with fillings from pork to shrimps to sweets, are eaten. It’s delicious tradition, heart-warming when it’s cold outside.

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