The new year is also considered “everyone's birthday,” a day on which all become a year older and gift giving is prevalent. “Gong Xi Fa Cai” is a typical greeting and means “wishing you luck and prosperity.”
Legends surrounding the origins of the ancient holiday abound. One well-known story says the word “nian” (or “year”) was the name of a man-eating dragon. Nian terrorized the country until a wise man convinced the dragon to eat other beasts, then advised the people to put red decorations on windows and doors to scare away Nian, in case the dragon changed his mind. Families put up red paper decorations, set off firecrackers, and beat drums and gongs in parades to scare away Nian. Houses may be decorated with symbolic flowers, fruits and colorful pictures to welcome the new year. The color red symbolizes the celebration and gold appears as a tribute to the brilliance of Chinese culture.
The 12-year cycle in the Chinese calendar recognizes each of a dozen animals in the Chinese zodiac – rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 2007 is the Year of the Pig. But some say this is no ordinary pig. Claims that 2007 is the "Year of the Golden Pig," which occurs every 600 years, have been made by fortune tellers but unconfirmed by folklorists. Legend has it that anyone born in the "Year of the Golden Pig" will have good fortune and lead wealthy, comfortable lives. I wonder if Mia will be born this year?
Gung Hay Fat Choy!