Year of TigerThe aggressive nature of the Tiger is upon us – arriving on February 14, 2010 – as the Chinese Lunar Year of 4708 – The Year of the Golden Tiger.

Don’t worry – the crouching tiger can unleash the hidden dragon – bringing along the advent of good luck and keeping the fierceness of the tiger under control.

Chinese the world over celebrate the New Year with the universal rituals of eating, gift giving, and spending time with family.

At this time, family members who are no longer living at home make a special effort to return home for gatherings. During the celebrations, people hand out lucky money in red envelopes called ang pow. The cash is placed only by even numbers with 8 being a popular number in these red packets, which are decorated with lucky symbols, Chinese characters, or deities. The Chinese regard the color red as a protective color, representing auspiciousness, prosperity, and with the power to get rid of evil spirits. The illustrations used on the front of ang pow bestow blessings and good wishes of longevity, prosperity and great health.

The origin of the Chinese New Year Festival can be traced back thousands of years through colorful legends and traditions. One of the most famous legends is that of Nian, a fast and ferocious beast, which the Chinese believe eats people on New Year’s Eve. To keep Nian away, red colors are pasted on doors, torches are lit, and firecrackers are set off during the night, because Nian is said to fear the color red, the light of fire, and loud noises.

As the legend goes, a long time ago the Nian, this strange creature appeared in China and horrified the people by eating men and animals. The word Nian in turn sounds like the Chinese word for year. When the Nian appeared, neither the fox nor the tiger could battle the Nian successfully and in despair the people asked the lion for help. The lion shook his mane, rushed towards the Nian and wounded it. The Nian ran away suddenly but it announced to return for taking revenge.

A year later the Nian did come again. This time the lion couldn’t help the people. He was too busy with protecting the emperor’s gate. So the villagers decided to do the job themselves. Out of bamboo and cloth they produced an image of the lion. Two men crawled inside it and approached the Nian. The lion pranced and roared and the monster fled away again. This is the reason why on the eve of the Chinese New Year, lions always dance. They are frightening evil away for yet another year.

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Visit Shirley Meerson’s website at: White Star Wellness Her expertise spans the Spa, Beauty, and Health Industry as a worldwide consultant, writer, and speaker.

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