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Happy Chinese New Year. Year of the Horse.

The 31st January sees the start of the Chinese New Year of the Horse. The date of the Chinese New Year changes every year as it is based upon the ancient Chinese Lunar calendar and not the Gregorian calendar used in most of western society.

The celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year is thought to date back several thousand years, allegedly as far back as 3000 BC but as the Chinese do not use continuous numbers so the current year could be anything from 4712 to 4650.

The year of the Horse is said to be the year of great communicators who will need to use this gift to help them during what is going to be a difficult year but the Chinese calendar also says that this will be the best way of making sure that they achieve their goals under their own efforts and not that of others.

The ancient Chinese legend says that a monster, known as Nian (the Chinese word for New Year) who preyed on the villagers stealing their food, taking their young and destroying crops. It is said that a wise old man suggested that as ‘Nian’ was afraid of the colour red and loud noise they should hang red lanterns and wall coverings outside of their doors and make noise by burning bamboo which pops loudly when the hot air escapes.

This is a long holiday which lasts for 15 days and each one has a specific celebration attached. Before the start of the celebrations, the house has to be cleaned thoroughly inside and out including all the beds, bedding and crockery has to all be washed and many paints the houses (the doors are painted red) as they believe that this washes away the bad luck in readiness for the arrival of the new luck heralded by the New Year.

The first day of the celebrations is of course all about family as they are gathered together to feast close to the home of the eldest member of the extended family. The meal will consist of a huge communal ‘hot pot’ symbolising the coming together of family and friends. They will also enjoy massive meat dishes including mainly pork and chicken and fish and seafood including lobster and abalone. There is also a fish dish which whilst they will try it, there will be a great deal more leftover which will be kept until the following day said to encourage their deities to give them surpluses for the coming year.

Many of the actions taken are symbolic of the Chinese belief’s that they will receive good luck, peace and harmony as a result of what is essentially a great clear out (spring clean) and then they will be ready to receive whatever the new year favours them with.

The holiday is rich and varied and here at Epic, we have a close working and personal relationship with China and its people so we wish our friends a happy and prosperous 2014

萬事如意 Wànshìrúyì - "May all your wishes be fulfilled"

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