Many Asian cultures celebrate the new year according to the lunar calendar, but the Chinese may be unique in having 15 days devoted to this holiday, which is a combination of Christmas, New Year's, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the Fourth of July all wrapped up in one. Actually, that's not *quite* accurate either, but it's hard to emphasize the importance of this holiday in American terms. Suffice it to say, while I am Chinese American and grew up in California, this was still a much bigger holiday in my household than Christmas, at least in terms of its family significance.
[By the way, a great essay about the meaning of Chinese New Year and living in the Chinese diaspora was published in The Toronto Star (click here) -- thanks to my cousin "I" for the link!]
If you're wondering what the Year of the Rabbit holds for all of us, here's what we have to look forward to, courtesy of The Holiday Spot:
A placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger. We should go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds and get some rest after all the battles of the previous year.
Good taste and refinement will shine on everything and people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force. A congenial time in which diplomacy, international relations and politics will be given a front seat again. We will act with discretion and make reasonable concessions without too much difficulty.
A time to watch out that we do not become too indulgent. The influence of the Rabbit tends to spoil those who like too much comfort and thus impair their effectiveness and sense of duty.
Law and order will be lax; rules and regulations will not be rigidly enforced. No one seems very inclined to bother with these unpleasant realities. They are busy enjoying themselves, entertaining others or simply taking it easy. The scene is quiet and calm, even deteriorating to the point of somnolence. We will all have a tendency to put off disagreeable tasks as long as possible
Money can be made without too much labor. Our life style will be languid and leisurely as we allow ourselves the luxuries we have always craved for. A temperate year with unhurried pace. For once, it may seem possible for us to be carefree and happy without too many annoyances.
So Happy New Year everyone! I, for one, certainly am glad to be done with the year of the Tiger--it WAS a fierce year for me and others--a little more placidity is something I'll treasure this year.
Also, for all you dog lovers out there, the second day of the Chinese New Year is noted for daughters to return "home" to visit their birthparents AND to celebrate dogs because today is celebrated as the birthdate of the first dog. So Happy Birthday to all dogs everywhere, especially my beloved "B"!