Chinese New Year started yesterday. Last year was the year of the Dragon, but now we have rolled over into year of the snake. I’m a snake. Which means I was born in the year of the snake. So this is supposed to be a good year for me. Yea!
How do expats celebrate CNY? Well, usually by getting as far away from China as they can. On the mainland it can be quite a long holiday, so it is a good opportunity to travel. However since everyone in China is taking the holiday off many businesses are closed. And additionally the transportation options are all filled to overflowing and are more expensive. So getting far away can be a really good choice.
This year we stayed put. So, we went to a large buffet luncheon out at a pleasant hotel at the beach with lots of other expats. There was a lion dance and firecrackers and people dressed in red.
As CNY comes near you need to go change money and get some new bills to give out as lai-see. These are cute little red envelopes that are given out at this time of year. They are frequently given out to children. Luckily I don’t know any children. The other reason to give them out is like a little end of year bonus. I give them to the security guards in our building, the cleaning staff, our beloved helper, etc.
It is also good luck to wear red underwear at Chinese New Year. Luckily they aren’t particular about the shade of red, so pink, burgundy, wine red are all acceptable. I also get my fingernails painted a Chinese red just for good measure.
And let’s not forget the decorations. The Chinese put up door decorations for CNY. Frequently they put up “couplets.” These are just two red banner pieces of paper with lucky writing on them. But since we never know what they say, we have never bought the couplets. What if they were charms of fertility or something! Yikes, don’t want that. But we do like buying the glitzy decorations that go directly on the door. I like to buy something with the zodiac animal on it. The year of the tiger was really easy as there were multitudes of tiger decorations. The year of the rabbit was harder, not because there weren’t lots of them, but because they all looked like Bugs Bunny and looked atrocious. There weren’t a lot of dragons available last year, but I finally found one I liked. This year was nearly a bust. I could only find one…and the snake was so cutesy you couldn’t tell it was a snake. So I just bought one with all the zodiac animals on it. I could just leave it up next year if I can’t find any decent horse ones. We’ll see.
Well, that’s how we celebrated Chinese New Year. Kung Hei Fat Choi to everyone in this year of the Snake. Ssssssss……