Happy New Year, everybody!
Nope, that's not a mistake — and no I haven't spent the last 22 days hibernating! I say "Happy New Year" because that's just what it is — today is the first day of the Chinese New Year! It's also called the Lunar New Year since its date on the Gregorian calendar (the one most Americans traditionally use) changes each year based on the phases of the moon. The Spring Festival — which starts today in many regions of Southeast Asia — lasts for 15 days and is associated with firecrackers, paper lanterns, and the color red. Why? Well, many many years ago, according to the legend, a great beast called the Nian would wreak havoc on the rural villages, preying upon the livestock, and even people. Scary! The usual method the people employed to deal with the beast was to simply hide inside their homes, with doors and windows locked tightly to keep the creature out. One year, someone got the idea of trying to scare the Nian away using fireworks, lighting lanterns, banging drums, and lots of red decorations. Lo and behold, it worked! And it still must be working today because I've been to China during the Spring Festival myself - and while I saw lots of amazing sights and had lots of tasty food, I never saw any Nians!
So Happy New Year to you and yours, whether you're celebrating or not — Now, I'd stay away from the fireworks if I were you (someone might call the cops!!) but if you wanted to hang up some red Chinese lanterns (for good luck or to keep any local Nians away) I've found a neat website to show you just how to make them! And if you wanted to order a red shirt or jacket or something like that in the spirit of the day, I just happen to know a nice little website where you can do just that. What? You know I have to sneak one plug in there!
'Til next time my friends!