By Ruth Hazard
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year meaning it’s time to welcome in the luckiest of all the zodiac signs, the dragon.
Photo used under creative commons by Ruth_W
A totem of the Chinese nation, the creature is a sign of power and a symbol of great strength. Those born in dragon years are to be honoured and respected.
Chinese astrology predicts that 2012 will be characterised by the same traits as the revered mythical dragon.
Representing good fortune and unpredictability, we should expect a year full of surprises that will work to our favour.
China celebrates with a 15-day holiday, beginning at the start of the lunar cycle and ending with a Lantern Festival when the moon is full.
Every family thoroughly cleans their house to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for incoming good luck.
Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper to mark the themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.
On the Eve of Chinese New Year, families sit down to a feast of dumplings filled with pig, duck, chicken and sweet delicacies.
It is traditional to end the night with firecrackers.
Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year and receive money in red paper envelopes known as ‘Hong Bao’.
The packets must contain an even amount of money as odd numbers are associated with funerals.
The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.
If you feel like getting involved The Chinese Centre in Hove has planned a celebration on Sunday January 29 at their site on Norton Road.
Beginning at 12.30pm the event will include performances from Chinese opera, Kung fu demonstrations, a raffle draw and a magic show.
There will also be a performance of the ancient traditional dragon dance, said to drive away bad luck and evil spirits. According to folklore, those who watch these performances will be lucky too.
The event will feature food stalls, exhibitions, Chinese language taster classes and dragon making.
The Chinese Centre is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, welcoming people of all ages and cultural backgrounds to join and learn more about the ancient Chinese culture.
For further information on the event call the Hove Centre on 01273 292910.