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Gong Xi Fa Chai

February 5, 2008

I got an SMS from my Chinese friend for the Lunar New Year celebration this weekend at his place. My, time really fly so fast. It was only last year he did the same to me, I mean, inviting me for the celebration. My in-laws will also be busy with the festivity starting tomorrow evening with the big family dinner.

I love Chinese food. I love shark’s fin soup but have to stop loving it because of animal rights. Anyway, not wanting to spoil the air, I like Yee Sang and Dim Sum too. Using the chop sticks to eat has never been a problem to me as I have mastered it during my childhood.

My neighbours were Chinese, a fourth generation originally from China they claimed. In fact, they rented the building which belong to my family as a shop house. They ran a grocery store and lived on the first floor. Two or three houses away were Chinese too, whom we called the Shanghai family because they came from Shanghai. They sold timber and yes, I grew up with timber dusts in my lungs.

So I grew up with the Chinese and I think, children in our village got mixed up with who influenced whom for there were other races too – Indians, Dusun and of course Malays.

I learned a lot of Chinese way of life since I was small. I think when you are small, you would just consume anything and everything, good or bad. So my Chinese neighbour taught me how to use the chop sticks and in return I taught them how to use the Malay version, the chandas for that mouth-watery Ambuyat.

I also love the lion dance, its just strange that the Malay word is ‘Tarian Naga’ so the English should be dragon dance and not lion. Anyway, when I was small, my Chinese neighbours would invited the lion dance troupe to their houses year in, year out. At first I was scared because of the loud music, tong tong tong tong! But as I grew up I began to like and even appreciate the culture. I surely did miss it when it was banned for many years from the streets.

The beginnings of the Chinese calendar can be traced back to the 14th century B.C.E. Legend has it that the Emperor Huangdi invented the calendar in 2637 B.C.E.

The Chinese calendar is based on exact astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and the phases of the moon. This means that principles of modern science have had an impact on the Chinese calendar.

 The Chinese calendar does not use a continuous year count! They used a 60 year cycle and a system of regional years (starting with each emperor). Before the 1911 revolution, Sun Yat-sen wanted to establish a republican alternative to the imperial reign cycles. According to Chinese tradition, the first year of the Yellow Emperor was 2698 B.C.E., so he introduced a counting system based on this. Under this system, 2000 is year 4698. An alternative system is to start with the first historical record of the 60-day cycle from March 8, 2637 B.C.E. Based on this system, 2000 is year 4637.
The following are the Chinese New Year dates:

Chinese year  

Zodiac animal  

Gregorian calendar

4693 Boar January 31, 1995
4694 Rat February 19, 1996
4695 Ox February 7, 1997
4696 Tiger January 28, 1998
4697 Hare/Rabbit February 16, 1999
4698 Dragon February 5, 2000
4699 Snake January 24, 2001
4700 Horse February 12, 2002
4701 Ram/Sheep February 1, 2003
4702 Monkey January 22, 2004
4703 Rooster February 9, 2005
4704 Dog January 29, 2006
4705 Boar February 18, 2007
4706 Rat February 7, 2008
4707 Ox January 26, 2009
4708 Tiger February 10, 2010
4709 Hare/Rabbit February 3, 2011
4710 Dragon January 23, 2012
4711 Snake February 10, 2013
4712 Horse January 31, 2014
4713 Ram/Sheep February 19, 2015
4714 Monkey February 9, 2016
4715 Rooster January 28, 2017
4716 Dog February 16, 2018
4717 Boar February 5, 2019
4718 Rat January 25, 2020

This link gives you more info on the Chinese New Year Calendar.

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