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Jan 28, 2016

Chinese New Year Brings Good Fortune

Welcome to the Year of the Rooster

With Hawai'i's deep-rooted ties to Chinese culture, we've been saying Gung Hei Fat Choy, which translates to "May You Have Good Fortune," for well over century in the Islands. While San Francisco may lay claim to having the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia, Honolulu has to be near the top of that list. And for good reason: Beginning in the mid 19th century, Chinese laborers began arriving in Honolulu in droves, where they built a community near the docks that forged present day Chinatown. Although many worked in the sugar cane fields, others soon opened up their own business and a thriving Chinese community in Hawai'i was born.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar (where the New Year falls on January 1st) the Chinese New Year follows a lunar calendar and actually lasts 15 days. Because it's dependent on the cycle of the moon, the date changes every year. However, that day typically falls between January 21 to February 10. As many of you have seen, each year is represented by one of 12 different zodiac animals. These animals include: Rat, Ox, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Phoenix Dance Chamber

Draped in tradition, Chinese New Year is awash in symbolism. Everywhere you look, you're sure to be greeted with the color red. In Chinese culture, red represents good luck. In ancient Chinese society, red symbolized fire, which was said to prevent bad luck. Whether it's a red firecracker, a woman wrapped in a red dress, or seas of red paper, there's no shortage of this vibrant color come Chinese New Year.

For many, Chinese New Year often means getting a little bonus money from a boss or parent. The money is traditionally housed in envelopes, which are—you guessed it—colored red. Known as Lai See , the tradition is meant to be a show of appreciation for those who serve us and is especially popular in Hong Kong. Crisp bills are typically required as it shows that thought was given, and it's not uncommon to see hordes of people lined up at the bank to receive fresh notes leading up to Chinese New Year to hand out to children, employees, servers, doorman and a host of others.

Chinese Lion Dance

Perhaps one of the most recognizable elements of the Chinese New Year are the lion dancers. Dating back to the Han Dynasty, well trained troupes don an elaborate costume in the shape of a lion and dance through the streets, bringing good luck to those they visit. The tradition is called cai qing and translates to "plucking the greens," or receiving money and it's customary to tip the lion with money if he visits your place of business or home.

The energetic and exciting traditions behind the Chinese New Year will be going strong at Ward Village on Sunday, January 22 at 11am where we'll be hosting lion dances and serving up a wealth of dim sum as we ring in the Year of The Rooster. With that said, we warmly greet you with Gung Hei Fat Choy and invite you to come celebrate the iconic tradition of Chinese New Year with us at Ward Village.

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