Enter The Dragon. Indeed, its the year of the mighty Dragon, a magnificent creature that symbolises wisdom, prosperity and power. According to traditional chinese beliefs, our beautiful fiery-earthy-but-this-year-mostly-watery Dragon - brings us much fortune, power, success, good health and happiness...and power, did I mention power? Be BOLD not humble, is the plan, apparently. Go the Dragons!
Traditionally, families and friends celebrate together, everyone is excited about the start of the year. Fresh plans, spanking new ambition. Of course, there is the ancient art of feasting until the mounds of fish eyes and chicken feet converge on your plate and start to resemble a Damien Hirst creation. And celebrating is all about the sharing. When you sit down and eat with your Chinese friends, remember this rule. Always pass the dumplings and never take the last one without offering to others first. *whispers* Its okay, they'll always say 'no thanks'.
Another ancient ritual is the giving of Red Envelopes filled with money. You hear a lot of theories about how this started, including the one about a young man who had the good fortune of slaying of a very bad beast and saving a town. The elders of the town were so grateful, they bestowed envelopes of gold coins upon the said dragon slayer. Today, married adults give young children and unmarried adults, envelopes filled with money. Red and gold are the most favoured colours for the envelopes as they symbolise wealth, happiness and success. So don't be surprised if you receive a gold envelope. This is a good, good thing. And the amount of the money in the envelope is said to represent the closeness of the relationship between the giver and the recipient. Yes, Aunty M plays favourites too, I hear you weeping. Many of my unmarried Chinese female friends and I often laugh about this... don't make me explain that either. Red envelopes and sympathy looks... pass the dumplings please.
I wish you all Kung Hei Fat Choi!
Happy Year of the Dragon
Be Bold not Humble