Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

That's what we'd say in Hong Kong where the local dialect is Cantonese or, as they say in Mandarin, Gong Xi Fa Cai!  They're both wishes for a prosperous new year. Happy New Year everyone!

The lunar new year display in the Elements shopping centre in Hong Kong

It's the year of the sheep (or if you prefer, the ram or goat) in the Chinese zodiac, starting on 19 February and ending on 7 February 2016.

Here are a couple of photos of Chinese New Year preparations in Wan Chai markets in Hong Kong.

Chinese New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar. There will be family dinners with celebratory foods, lai see (red packets of new money) and lion dances to bring luck to the new year. There will be lots of flowers - plum tree blossoms, jonquils and other flowering bulbs and there will be lots of citrus fruit trees, particularly cumquats. There will be fireworks over Victoria Harbour and elsewhere in China, parades and celebrations in Chinese communities all over the world.

Wolves in sheeps' clothing. More from the Elements display

The sheep is one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac. Each animal represents a year, starting with the rat and ending, twelve years later, with the pig.

If you know the order of the animals in the zodiac you can tell how old people are. Most children turning 12 this year are sheep, unless they were born before 21 January in 2004 - in which case they are horses! This is because the Chinese zodiac works on a lunar calendar.

You can learn more about the Chinese zodiac here. And because we are all about books here on Reading for Australia you can see this link to find some recommended books for children about the lunar new year. Also, the writer Mark Twain, who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) is one of the more famous literary sheep!

Thanks to Virginia Hand for the photos of Chinese New Year preparations at The Elements shopping centre and the Wan Chai markets.

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

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