Chinese zodiac comes from Taoist belief and cosmology. Legend says that Jade Emperor invited animals to his birthday party. 12 of them came in following order after crossing river 1) Rat as it has thrown away cat into water from Ox back, 2) Ox 3) Tiger 4) Rabbit had to find ways to jump over rocks to reach shore, 5) Dragon- could come first but was helping people by bringing rain in a way of jumping from water and throwing it into sky, 6) Snake ,jumped before horse from his neck 7) Horse, 8) Goat, 9) Monkey honestly stepped from Goat after Goat reached shore, 10) Rooster did same when Monkey stepped down, 11) Dog was swimming and washing around, 12 Pig was eating and sleeping on the road.
It is biggest and most appreciated holiday in China and among Chinese people worldwide. Its date is always shifting because Chinese traditionally use lunar calendar and their new year day is always between end of January and end of February.
Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival as it symbolizes beginning of spring, new birth, new chance, and new hope for health, luck, love, fortune… It is because we know that on spring nature wakes up: snow melts, grass and green leafs appear again, birds come back from south, bears come out from their caves, streams and rivers flow again, flowers bloom… Every year is year of one of 12 different zodiac signs. For example this year 2017 is year of rooster, 10th sign out of 12. Each sign has its own characteristics both good and bad characteristics. All signs have both positive and negative characteristics as zodiac is based on concept of yin yang of balanced contradictions. For example roosters are warm hearted, outgoing, skillful and honest on one side and overconfident, impatient and stubborn on another.
Each year is supposed to bring you new successes, luck, health love, wealth… This year 2017 is year of fire rooster. It is going to be turbulent year for all 12 signs but especially for roosters. It will be year of many uncerntainity. There will be some instability in job and love however some health concerns too. But as Chinese astrogolist believe no one will suffer big problems this year and most of people will manage to solve all the problems. Despite many problems they will be managed.
People do some things at home and in temple in order to guarantee good luck for following year.
At home: Whole family gathers. Sometimes they pass thousands of kilometers in order to be together during this most important holiday. People on New Years Eve should wear something red as red color symbolizes luck and good fortune. Also in order to keep good luck through all year they are expected to wear something red usually as bracelet, necklace or talisman as red color symbolizes fire which symbolically expels evil spirits away. Also families before eve should dress up in new clothes as it is supposed to wait new year in new clothes. Before eve people light up candles in front of their home altars and burn incense in order to pay worships and pray for health and good luck and love in next year to their deities. Deities are also worshipped by giving 3 cups of tea and 3 fruits( 3 oranges, peaches or apples) in front of their figures. In Chinese home altar there are usually Guanyin, Maitreya Buddha, Jade Emperor and Three pure ones… People also give worships to their ancestors.
During the eve family gathers in front of table. They enjoy in amazing dinner composed of various meals that contain meat, vegetables, rice… But most important meals of the evening are jiao zi or bao zi- ( kind of dumplings filled with meat, garlic and cabbage)- more of them you eat symbolizes more wealth to have during whole year and noodles- long noodles symbolize good health and long life. Fish is eaten as it is believed it will bring harmony. Rice wine is drunk and people speak many jokes and enjoy holiday atmosphere. It is supposed to smile as much as possible in order to have harmonious relations during whole year. At midnight children throw firecrackers on the streets in order to chase evil spirits as belief says so. In morning as presents from parents children get a lot of sweets and red lucky envelopes known as hongbao in which they get money. On red envelopes there are golden symbols of double fortune.
In Temple: During first day of New year many people go to temples to pray for good fortune and get blessings from heaven and deities. People burn a lot of incense sticks to pray to Heaven for blessings, harmony and good fortune, to Guanyin for happiness, success, and compassion and to Healing Buddha for good health.
To Maitreya Buddha they pray in order to get prosperity, wealth and good fortune. few days during Festival people go to temples as there are large ferries organized there. Spring Festival lasts for 1 week from first day of Lunar New Year. During that time there are temple ferries every day. Monks give blessings there and visitors come to pray, burn incense, enjoy festival and eat sweets. In front of temples there are drummers, dragon dancers and lion dancers which are according to belief by noise and scary appearance chasing evil spirits and bad luck.
Happy Year of the Rooster, Xin Nian Kuai Le!