Thursday, February 8, 2008 marked the first day of the year of the Earth Rat. Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar and begins on the new moon of a new year. It is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar where the celebrations last for 15 days and it will end on the Lantern festival. In Indonesia it is popularly known as "cap-go-meh". The year of the rat is forecast to be a great year for new beginnings, an excellent opportunity for a new start and good prospects. If you're aggressive, charming, and, well,--- a rat--- (no pun intended) this is your year. However to take advantage of this energy, one must be resourceful and have careful planning (I think this is a common knowledge).
This year my family welcome the new year quietly. My cousin (from my late mother side of the family) passed away just a few days before the big day. It just doesn't feel right to have a big celebration when our close relative is mourning.
As I child I would look forward to Chinese New Year as it is a day where I would receive the red envelope (angpao) that contain money. You just need to greet the elders and wish them a Gong Xi Fat Chai. If you are not married, you're entitled to be angpouw recipient from the married / elderly. Because there is a belief the one who gives out and receives the red packet will be blessed with luck and good fortune. Back then, I would wait until I was on my own to open it and counted the crisp new bill over and over again...hehehe! Now I am the one who gives out the angpao to my younger sister, my niece and nephew.