The Year of the Rat

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? If you are like most Americans, you will have lost your momentum and many of your goals for the new year will have been forgotten as you run to keep pace with your hectic life.

Luckily, today begins the Chinese New Year. It is a good time to refocus on your priorities. It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with your family and friends.

The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is the longest and the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Today officially begins the “Year of the Rat.”

Supposedly individuals born in rat years tend to be leaders, pioneers and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking (or so I am told). Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, William Shakespeare and Mozart were all born in the year of the rat.

In China, the New Year is a time for families to reunite. At celebrations people wear red, decorate with poems or red paper and they give children “lucky money” in red envelopes (similar to the envelopes pictured above).

The celebration ends with the Lantern Festival on the 15th and in many areas the highlight of the Lantern Festival is the dragon dance. The dragon is usually made of silk, paper and bamboo and it often extends up to 100 feet.

Manhattan has one of the largest Chinatown’s in the United States. The festivities begin today with firecrackers. It is very interesting to learn about the Chinese New Year and the traditions that surround it. I encourage you to find out more about this fascinating celebration.

Take time to learn more about the interesting people and things around you. Focus on what is important in your life. Spend more time with your family and friends. Make time for chocolate.

Following is an example of the Chinese New Year Dragon Dance