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February has only 28 days (except for Leap Year when it
has 29). That makes it the shortest month of the year. But
it also is one of the busiest ones.
Consider that by the middle of the month we have
already had Groundhog Day, Mardi Gras and Valentine’s
Day and the beginning of the Chinese New Year. By the
time you are reading this, Presidents Day will have come
and gone. And the stores have had their Easter merchandise
out for Christmas at least a week.
So let’s just enjoy what’s left of the Chinese New Year.
This is an important festival which occurs at the turn of
the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is also called
the Spring Festival. The New Year begins on the eve
preceding the first day of the new year, which falls on the
new moon between January 21 and February 28. This
year the Year of the Dog began on Friday February 16
and the festival will end on Friday, March 2.
The Chinese use an animal zodiac to name these
years, rotating the same 12 different animals. Even if you
aren’t Chinese, you can calculate what animal symbolizes
your birth year. Before doing that, though, it’s only fair
to warn you that some of the Chinese zodiac animals are
not ones that would be popular in our culture. But here
they are: dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake,
horse, goat, monkey and rooster.
To figure out whether you’re a rat or a dragon or whatever,
try this: Google Chinese New Year (or ask Siri) for
the year of your birth and the corresponding Chinese calendar
animal. That will give you the animal for your year.
Good luck with that. I was born in the Year of the Horse,
which would have been my first choice. I lucked out.
Depending on your personal feelings, you might not feel
as fortunate. My least favorite animals in the list would be
the snake, monkey, ox, pig, goat and the worst – the rat.
I was born between the snake and the goat, so I really
dodged two bullets on that one.
Just a few more things about the Chinese New Year.
It is a major holiday in China and is celebrated in many
other locations with a large Chinese population. One of
the most charming customs is to place money with certain
numbers which reflect good luck and honorability in
red envelopes or packets. These are traditionally give
to children, single family members and grandparents, to
be placed under their pillows to bring good fortune for
the new year. And finally, if you are curious about the
Chinese New Year, there is a lot about it on The Internet.
As for celebrating this festival, I can’t think of a better
way than going out with family or friends to dinner at your
favorite Chinese restaurant.
Happy New Year, Chinese style!

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