I was going to do my normal rundown of 2016 next January but I don’t think Ciao will be here then so here is my feelings on the year to come. It’s no holding back as usual and so feel free to be offended on behalf of someone you think might be offended. Or you could rate it E and move on. Or you could do your own list. We need an ongoing release between all of our often boring to write product reviews.
A is for the American President and Obama’s second term dribbling out. Congress blocked pretty much everything he came up with in those 8 years, especially to do with Americas poor, especially the black vote that got Obama elected with 96% loyalty. They were most of his problems to solve though. The black unemployment rate under President Bush was 10 percent. The average under President Obama after eight years is an uncomfortable 14 percent. Black unemployment has always been double that of Whites but it hasn’t always been 14 percent. It briefly hit 16 percent - a 27-year high - in late 2011. The black prison population has also increased. When Obama came in back in 2008 some 40% of all prisoners were non Hispanic blacks. That is now 42%. Incredibly, by the age of 23, 49% of black males, 44% of Hispanic males, and 38% of white males have been arrested in the United States. You can be locked up for not paying your parking ticket there. Ferguson, where all the trouble was, 67% of black drivers had been given a driving ticket. The reason, other than they were black, is because the cops are increasingly funded by tickets, not a good idea.
B is for the BBC and the Jimmy Savile Inquiry and there is no doubt Savile was a pervert and a weirdo but there is also no doubt there was a culture in showbiz and the music industry for young adolescent girls and boys to be allowed to ‘get near’ their hero’s and if both parties were willing then it was open season, and so what did it matter to the BBC in the 1970s? As we have seen with the current Sunderland player Adam Johnson’s, it’s often the case the young girls do the pursuing and the perverts cash in for the buzz. I don’t believe Johnson is a pedophile or should get a big sentence if the girl got what she wanted from the flirtation but he should definitely get time. I have always felt a lot of these accusations from the 1970s are exactly the same as the Johnson scenario and it only comes to light 40-years later when a lawyer decides their client was in fact legally abused and will need some compensation and apology. That gives the green light for other people that are on YouTube or in Smash Hits standing next to a Savile in 1977 to bang in a claim. I believe that there are as many chancers out there as sexual abusers, if you bear in mind that over half-a-million people nationwide have made whiplash claims in the last three years alone.
C is for the Cobblers and we will be going up as champions! It’s now 16 unbeaten which included 10 wins in a row and now 17 points clear at the top of League Two. It was 8 straight away wins when they won at York City 2-0 in January and 28 games in a row we have scored in the league. This unstoppable charge picked up a pace when the club was finally taken over by Kelvin Thomas and we have never looked back. The adversity of the lads not being paid and the club on the brink focused the players and fans minds and it’s been a hell of a journey. The last time we won Division Two was the glorious 100 points and 100 goals Graham Carr season of 1987 and although this won’t match that it feels close. This time we won’t have to sell players and we may be able to push up Division One. Thomas intends to sell us when we are in better health and a rich owner could buy a potential Premier League club as the town of Northampton is a rapidly expanding place.
D is for Doctors and the junior version. Like most middle-class people; they appear not to want to work weekends. At the moment they must work at least one Saturday a week and they get paid extra for it but the new contract will demand that Saturday and Sunday are normal working days, and so rostered in every other week, and as they are the busiest nights and days there goes your weekend. The Health Secretary offered them 10% more a year to cover it but Middle England are not having it. How can you go watch Elbow at the Roundhouse if you are mopping up sick and booze at the weekends? Quality of life is important but when you chose to be in the medical profession then it’s your life, simple as. This is why Muslims dominate the new HNS intake. They are prepared to work the hours in return for visas. The more deaths on Saturdays thing has been debunked and it’s only because there are more serious cases at weekends in hospitals that more people die, not because its understaffed. Wednesday remains the day you are most likely to die in hospital.
E is for Euros and 4 of the home nations are in the finals in France, an unprecedented amount. It’s going to be very exciting with important games every night in the group stages. Wales with Bale look the best of the 4 and with just 8 teams not progressing from the group stages it looks god for our teams to go deep in France. I can’t wait!
F is for Females and I don’t seem to have any knocking around and so if your cute, clever and know how to lick a lollipop then leave me a message! Ok, I couldn’t think of a F;-)
G is for Gang crime that is seriously getting out of control in urban Britain. The politically correct decision to stem ‘stop and search’ has seen a sharp rise in teen murders in London and our inner cities, mostly young black boys/men killing likewise over postcodes, drugs and disrespect issues. Black youths, operating in those gangs, are also behind the huge rise in mobile phone and personal property thefts in inner cities, and most of their victims are white, a Home Office study revealed. In London, where 11 per cent of the population aged over 10 is black, about 70 per cent of those accused of stealing mobile phones last year were black. White youths were the victims in the vast majority of cases, followed by Asian youths. In Birmingham, 54 per cent of the robbers were done by black criminals, 34 per cent Asian and nine per cent white. The victims were 79 per cent white, 23 per cent Asian and six per cent black. In Bristol, 63 per cent of suspects were black, 31 per cent white and three per cent Asian. Ninety-two per cent of the victims were white. The police have been forced to target more white people for stop and search to appease the cries of racism. This is what happens.
H is for Homeowners and some people in the South East of England will earn more from their yearly rising equity than their salary this year. The government has cynically driven up house prices by not building enough affordable homes and so driving up by-to-let and so rents. A lot of brand new homes in London are sold to South East Asian investors who keep them empty in London as an investment. They know the price will rise as they know the government’s policy. Councils across the land are having their central funding cut and have no choice but to sell land to these investors to build yet more of these ghost homes to raise cash. London is gentrifying right now to clear out the unemployed in the council estates and tower blocks to build trendy flats and apartments. If you are low paid and working hard you are hit with the rent rise and council tax and you can go hang.
I is for Immigration and still they pour into Europe. I dismissed the likes of Tommy Robson and his absurd rantings about the Islamification of Europe but it may well be happening and we can do nothing about it. Of the 1.3 million on the move to Europe last year some 90% come from warring Muslim countries. There is almost a sense of entitlement in some of these mostly young looking olive skinned men moving north to Germany and Sweden and this could be the trigger for the UK to leave the EU in the big vote. Are they bringing with them the problems that they are fleeing from? Most countries are closing their borders now and the queue is back up to the shore of the Med and its going to get really ugly this year as Turkey are paid big bucks to close the gates. This is the same Turkey funding ISIS.
Cameron continues to be heartless and doesn’t really want too many in the U.K, my local authority of Northants saying they wouldn’t take one single refugee. It’s not a vote winner. The main problem is that some 67% of asylum seekers denied the right to stay in the U.K over the last ten years are still here. Human rights lawyers give them a script of a reason why they left their country and then advise them to lose their papers on arrival, meaning there is no clue where to send them back to. We have the absurd system where 25-year-old Afghans pretend to be 15 to avoid deportation and end up studying in comprehensive schools with 13-18-year olds. Some of those asylum seekers have committed crimes in the meantime, been locked up in cells, and yet still not deported, yet the same Home Office have no problem trying to deport 92-year-old women back to South Africa? The asylum criminals are often cynically given shorter sentences than 12 months so to avoid deporting them. It’s expensive to chase them down and deport them once their appeals run out and so they stay in the vacuum of not being legally able to work but too expensive to detain, so causing more crime to make ends meet. The government has learned that those given the right to stay and work are quickly on full welfare for at least two years after. London’s unemployed, where most asylum seekers target, are not white British nationals. The Tories plan is to disperse them around Britain through the benefit cap and so to level the ghettoes that way and so gentrify London for their core voters.
J is for Johnson and Boris has made his move to be Prime Minister by stabbing Cameron in the back. One way to get Cameron to go is for him to lose the vote on Europe and the same vote Boris promised to back the PM on, if he put the vote option in the general election mandate. But Boris has flipped and gone for Out and Cameron’s most charismatic orator is dangerously on the other side. Coming out of Europe could be catastrophic for the U.K. But Johnson really doesn’t care. He even got rid of his silly floppy hair to look Presidential.
K is for Killing the disabled and the recent departure of Ian Duncan Smith couldn’t be more welcome by the disabled and depressed. Since he took over the DWP and welfare the suicide rate has steepled. Genuinely sick people were forced off sick pay and onto JSA and simply couldn’t take it and killed themselves. If you are depressed, have an anxiety disorder or struggling with a physical disability the last thing you need is a private company being paid £100 per person to get you off ESA and so on your back. The main reason mentally and physically disabled people live as long as they do is because of lifelong welfare support. 10,000 extra people have committed suicide since IDS took over the DWP.
L is for Leicester City and can they win the league? With no cup commitments they have recovery time and still only won defeat this year, the defeat to Arsenal in that six-pointer. Will they look in their wing mirrors at the likes of West Ham who can steal their Champions League spot as United and Liverpool fall away or just keep going as they are with their attacking on the break style and punch the accelerator and see what happens? There next three games are winnable but Spurs are right there. I can’t wait to find out and hope they win it. It’s going to be fun.
M is for Operation Midland and the investigation set up to find the high level pedophile ring is to be shut down. It turns out the man called ‘Nick’ who made the absurd accusations against politicians is a serial liar and a fantasist. But the cops couldn’t resist a big investigation and now the egg is dripping off their faces. He was a rent boy who operated from the so-called ‘Meat Rack’ back in the day in London where young gay kids would entertain men of means in places like the infamous Elms Guest House. He obviously didn’t choose to be gay and perhaps these bonkers accusations were simply some sort of mental payback in that it was ‘them that made me be gay’ type attitude. You would think someone would have said something if Edward Heath was eating and abusing babies. It turns out the missing Asian child behind the claim was abducted and most likely killed for the usual honor cultural reasons in the Bangladeshi community he came from and so not ravenous Tory MPs.
N is for the No Vote in the European Referendum. The vote well be held June 23rd, the day after the group stages of the Euros and so we will all be awash with wall charts of European flags and a football fiesta in France to encourage us to stay. Could the whole vote rest on England going out of the tournament the night before? I’m undecided at the moment but if these terror attacks continue I can see a Yes vote to leave.
O is for Oil and as you know the price has bottomed out and blame put down to lack of demand in China and general over-production. But what’s really going on is Saudi Arabia and OPEC want to make American shale gas and oil not economically viable by driving down world prices and so the Americans have to buy more Middle East oil. But this year we have seen a surprise tag team of Russia and Saudi Arabia emerge, teaming up to peg each others production to drive down the world price some more, surprising as the two huge oil producing countries don’t particularly like each other and both rely on a high price for their economies to work. But its happening and this could well finish off the US shale industry and soon as uneconomical the way North Sea Oil is also failing. All the Middle East chaos is down to oil in the end.
P is for Performance Enhancing Drugs in sport and sexy Russian five time tennis slam winner Maria Sharapova the first big casualty of the year. She will not be the last. Sharapova had been taking what they call a ‘legal Cheat’in sport, a substance not on the banned list but taken by athletes who don’t have the condition the drug is for, in the Russians case diabetes and heart disease. Unless she can prove she has those issues her career is over. Some 700 Russian athletes alone had been using the same drug, why it’s been banned. The drug under its current name was banned in January and on the list of banned drugs circulated three months before that. Sharapova’s excuse was she didn’t read the list. I suspect what has happened is she got used to getting ‘special treatment’ in being allowed to take this obvious stimulant and so no need to check any lists. Its long been suspected positives are covered up in tennis to protect the brand and sponsors and players get a silent ban when caught instead and allowed to pretend they have an injury. I also suspect the independent Biological Blood Passport system detected this as well and so tennis had to act. The brilliance of the BBP is when the original blood draws are taken from sports people its natural for the athletes to be as clean as possible and so future indiscretions in blood tests show up even more. These tests are going to snare huge names all summer.
Q is for the Queen, who will be 90 this year. They say you should put a percentage sign in front of your age to work out the chances of you dyeing next year. The Queen mum lived to 100 and so the signs are good for another year or two but it will soon be time to handover to Charles. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t want to shuffle off just yet.
R is for Rotherham and it looks like yet more cases coming down the line of gangs of Pakistani men sexually abusing white working-class schoolgirls up north. Pedophilia was a rare case in Britain of a racially proportionate crime - like burglary, like drunken violence and like car theft. Not no more. 66% of sexual abuse is now done by white people in the U.K., who are 86% of the population. Most of the girls involved in Rotherham were/are in care, white and it’s still going on now. The tactic seems to be to get the younger trendy Asian lads to chat them up and give them gifts and then date them and then pass them on to older man where the serious abuse begins. It’s no secret that young girls in the working-class will date older men of all colors as a status thing as the men have a car and cash but it’s clearly much more cynical up north. Muslim men often have to marry their st or 2nd cousin or get a young wife fedexed over from Pakistan they have never met/love for immigration and dowry reasons and then have to live at home with their extended family. It’s not a great and liberating life. They often work in the low paid night economy in cabs and takeaways and so naturally meet those promiscuous girls. And the girls are easy targets to be groomed and we now know that the police turned a blind eye because the girls seemed willing and rarely testified against these guys. More disturbingly we now know that Asian men in authority in Rotherham were related to some of the offenders and were even helping to procure white girls to ‘entertain’ older Asian Muslim men. Police officers and politicians from that community are also involved in investigations. Its pretty vulgar stuff and I’m amazed the white working-class haven’t kicked up over it more. Many who did make complaints were not listened to, and white parents of the kids often complicit in the abuse by their inaction. The kids are not to blame. No one was telling them it was/is a bad thing. New evidence has also linked mugging gangs to gang rapes in London and our urban centers and again suppressed for ‘sensitive reasons’. It suggests a disproportionately high involvement of young black or Asian males in group sex attacks as part of gang initiation culture that a high proportion of the victims are white females. What I do know is if gangs of white men were targeting young Pakistan Muslim girls then the law would have acted very differently and politically correctly, as would the Pakistani community rightfully be angry. Imagine if gangs of white men went to Saudi to abuse Muslim girls? Off with their heads! White people don’t seem to value white working-class girls anymore.
S is for the Sporting extravaganza that is the Olympic Games. It’s to be held in Rio amongst the growing Zika virus threat and big corruption cases against its ex leaders. The Kenyan team said they probably would not be going because of the Zika virus but later reveled they have all but been banned from the Olympics for drug abuse. More countries will be dropping out soon.
T is for Tax and big business just don’t want to pay any. The Tweet of the year absolutely nailed the absurdity of Facebook/UK paying hardly any corporation tax in 2015 in a country making them millions. HMRC paid £27,000 last year to advertise on Facebook to remind self employed people to ‘pay their tax’, yet Facebook/UK had paid just £4,560 to HRMC in tax in the same year.
U is for the US Election and looking very likely to be Trump V Clinton, the woman versus the Devil. Trump enters most elections and does it for a bit of a laugh as he can self fund it. But celebrity goes a long way in America and if you are beholden to nobody you can say what the hell you want on TV, however racist. Americans get confused between politics and entertainment. The rednecks that are skewing the vote on the stump towards Trump in the primaries are the type of people who don’t vote in the actual election - and the sort of people who Trump crosses the road from. Never under estimate how stupid Americans are. Just as 95% of blacks voted for Obama, most women will vote for the woman. Rich white millionaires won’t be voting for Trump though. It’s President Clinton all the way. Even Trump is appalled at the America he is creating.
V is for Vendetta and Sunni Islam continues to rage hate across the world, Belgium the latest target. Molenbeek had extraordinary high levels of unemployment with up to 70% of Muslim men out of work their, many hustling and committing crime to make their living. Most are from North Africa and not very Belgium. The community appears to have harbored the Paris attackers and no real interest in integration to address their problems. Pledging allegiance to ISIS is just another thing they do there that will generate a feeling of self worth. ISIS is a Sunni cult and determined to win back the land they lost in the Iraq War. What Blair has done equates him with Hitler for me. Sweden and Germany are next.
Saudi Arabia have spent billions in the last 30-years pumping out their version of Sunni Islam around the world and its corrupted millions of young minds. This creates an awkward relationship with the West. It’s almost certain Saudi Arabia plotted 911 and certainly most of the hijackers and financiers were from there and America knew that. But America can’t attack their biggest arms buyer and oil supplier and so Afghanistan and Iraq had to get it instead so to prove America wont rollover in public to huge terror attacks. Why the Saudi’s would attack America is obviously complex but involves the pernicious deal the West has struck to keep the House of Saud in control of Saudi. The Sheiks in dark shades supply cheap oil and exert control in the Middle East on America’s behalf in return and then elements in the Kingdom surreptitiously allow rich Saudis to hit back at America because of the version of Islam they have been taught identifies America as Infidels. Attacks like this appease the masses who will overthrow the Sheiks if they don’t see stuff like 911. It’s the only way it works. I suppose it’s like being married to a rich guy you hate but letting your husband sleep around so you don’t have divorce him and lose all the trinkets.
W is for Women and cyber crime. A study in London by the Metropolitan Police statistics section found out that of the 20,000 plus victims of cyber crime women were six times more likely to be turned over as men. It’s believed this is because of the pure volume of online shopping done by women and they tend to be more trusting and so vulnerable on dating sites and social media, as well as dodgy retail sites looking for bargains. Even though men are generally more cynical about online money they are also targets and tend to get hit for bigger cash amounts, averaging £2,325 pounds to the women’s £809 per scam. This is believed to be that men tend to do the more expensive and so macho purchases online, like cars and big white and black electrical goods. Because retail companies have to eat up most of the cost to protect their reputation we don’t get to hear just how bad retail crime is online.
X is for XXX and porn is officially no longer powering the internet. You could turn it all off and the internet would be fine. That was not always the case. Without free porn the expert reckon the WWW would be nowhere big as it is now. But social media and online shopping has arrived and now the women can enjoy the internet and so more balanced.
Y is for the ‘Yes’ vote to leave Europe and at the moment its neck-and-neck and the Yes vote mostly about immigration. We like to kid ourselves as a nation this votes is about meddling Europe and new laws but, as with everything, it’s about immigration and our somewhat natural distrust of Johnny Foreigner. Humans are born racist and the younger and nearer you are born to the equator the more racism you receive and the further away and whiter and older you are the more you dish out. I’m not sure how to vote as I do feel we are running out of our identity and immigration is rampant now and won’t stop and it’s all one way because of our good economy, ironic as not being in Europe fully is why our economy is good. All the Tory’s that want us to leave list negative reasons, the same reasons that got them elected!
Z is for Zero hours contracts, something we will see a lot of in 2016 and beyond now unions are being crushed and corporations take over governance. Big business is not keen on the rapidly increasing minimum wage and increasingly moving away from agency temps to make up their flexible workforce, zero hours and one month rolling contracts the next big thing. Coupled with the Tories taking away funding for employment tribunals we are near the point where companies can sack you at any point. They don’t want people on the shop floor or in the warehouse when it’s quiet and so simply employing people by the hour now. We may well benefit in our pocket but we will have to work harder over fewer hours to get the same money as we were before. The government doesn’t care and moving more workers into the tax bracket means more tax in the coffers. Firms will simply sack thousands come next money to meet the minimum wage commitment.
What better occasion than the Chinese New Year for me admit to being a dyed-in-the wool sceptic where horoscopes are concerned - or a horosceptic, as we should perhaps be called? This applies to the western star-sign system, where the most cursory examination of friends and acquaintances will confirm that those born under the same sign do not always - or even often - share characteristics. It also applies to the Chinese animal-annual one, which to a westerner like me does not even offer the illusory coherence lent by long familiarity. Or maybe I just don't get it.
The Chinese may well think me a dope
To be phased by their strange horoscope:
I know each New Year's feast
Is assigned to a beast,
But beyond that I simply can't cope.
We've just finished the Year of the Snake,
A notion of which I could make
Neither head nor yet tail -
Such a dumb way to fail
Since that's all that there is to a snake.
The Year of the Horse is now here
Which again seems a little bit queer.
For, fine steed though the horse is
When run on racecourses,
What's that got to do with a year?
Next up is the Sheep, it turns out;
Which does nothing to banish my doubt,
After Sheep comes the Monkey
Who sounds kind of funky,
But really, what's that all about?
There's the Rooster, the Dog and the Pig,
(Though, sorry, I still just don't twig);
After them comes the Rat,
But it seems there's no Cat -
Maybe Cats judged it all infra dig.
There's the Ox and the Tiger and Rabbit.
If you give me a clue then I'll grab it
As to how to construe
This oracular zoo
(Or whatever abode they inhabit).
The Dragon comes next - indisputable,
But was ever a beast more inscrutable?
Such a mythical brute
Surely no one could scrute,
So I can't think of anything suitable.
Then at last will the Snake re-appear;
Yes, the end of this rhyme is now near,
Though I've just time to say
"Xin nián kuài lè"
Or more scrutably: "Happy New Year."
© Also published under the name torr on Ciao UK, 2014
January 26, 2009 marks the start of the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year. This is based on the Chinese calendar and is celebrated for 15 days. In the Philippines, the people join in the celebration due to the fact that there are many Chinese immigrants who have settled in the country. Majority of them are business owners and have married locals making the country steeped with Chinese traditions and cultures. Most of them are established in big cities like Manila and Cebu where they are prominent figures not only in business but also in politics. There's a heavy concentration of Chinese population in the city called Binondo, particularly in Ongpin Street. The focus of the Chinese New Year celebration is held here where Chinatown is located. Several Chinese shops line the district and the streets will be packed with people as Chinese and locals alike usher in officially the Year of the Ox.
There's the traditional lion and dragon dance to mark the occasion. Almost all variety/talk shows in the country showcased a lion/dragon dance at the beginning of the show in the past few days to offer their participation to the coming event. The lion and dragon dance is a sight to behold because of the way they are manoeuvred by the dancers inside while snaking up and down given them motion and life while drums, cymbals and gong are playing loudly in the background. The lion is believed to bring some good luck while the dragon is the deity for water which ensures a productive year ahead. The dancers go from shop to shop to collect "hongbao" or red envelope hanging above the shops' entrance areas. According to some feng shui (the ancient practice of putting everything in line with the yin and yang philosophy) experts, the Year of the Ox is going to be a slow and steady year. It lacks the fire to keep the economy growing hence we are supposed to expect a harsher condition financially. However, people that were born in the Year of the Ox are supposed to be calm but full of tenacity. I was born in the Year of the Horse and the expert's prediction is that the Horse will have to persevere more this year but love is supposed to bring comfort. Well, I like the sound of that.
The Filipino people, including non-Chinese, prepare for this occasion by following some ancient traditions and practices. Some may have been twisted from their original forms but the objective remains the same. That is to bring in the good luck of the New Year and drive away the misfortunes of the previous year. Before starting anything the house should be cleaned before the New Year to sweep away bad elements. Some suggestions I've seen and heard over the years are as follows; one should prepare a bowl of garlic to bring in wealth and luck, spring onions for married couples to add love to the union and a wreath of fruits consisting of 13 oranges or ponkans with a pineapple at the centre. A red ribbon should be tied around the pineapple's crown. You can also include a root crop called Gabi (kind of like taro) tied with red ribbon for the whole family's good luck. My mother is a big follower of this custom. Although, we live in the province and there are only few Filipino-Chinese (Tsinoy, as we fondly call them) who celebrate the festival in this part of the country, she still adheres to all the necessary rituals in keeping with the Chinese New Year spirit. I would often present my arguments in the past that none of these really matter because there's not an ounce of Chinese in our blood, but she can't be deterred so I have just stopped bothering her and pretty much learned to go with the flow.
As of this writing, the household is busy preparing for tonight's feast. We are going to cook Biko, glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and latik (brown sugar boiled in coconut milk). One of the most famous foods for this particular occasion is the Tikoy (nian gao). Tikoy and Biko are sticky and sweet foods that are supposed to make the good fortunes stick to those who eat them and make the bonding of the family sweeter. We will share a meal at midnight to greet the New Year with abundance. We have skipped some practices like the money in hongbao distributed among the members of the family. In the past, my mother will bury hongbao in a heap of rice and we would dig into it in the morning following New Year's Day and get our share of envelope. My mother would slip in Php20.00 to Php100.00. Of course, I would cheat and take a peek inside the envelope before I would fish out my share. Who wants to end up with a lower amount? This, however, is always present in Chinese families' celebrations. There are also fish, cotton, water, salt and sugar displayed on the table. These are the basic needs of man in his daily life and to avoid shortage of these, one has to offer these items to be blessed when the New Year comes in. Just like the traditional Western New Year, there will be firecrackers at midnight to meet the brand new year with a bang and to drive away evil spirits. For additional individual lucks, there are charms and crystals one can wear to protect one's self from bad spirits. But for me, these are just business opportunities for amulet dealers.
Red is a big colour in Chinese tradition. Anywhere you look, this colour dominates the festivities and it is said to help bring in that much needed luck. Shops and houses are decorated with red lanterns and ribbons. Red clothes and undergarments are also worn. At midnight, doors and windows should be opened wide to welcome in the New Year and let the old one out. In the past, we would burn a huge candle with a dragon design at the threshold of our house. The particular meaning of this escape me but again it has something to do with good luck. I think, some non-Chinese Filipinos participate for the sheer fun of it. It is again one way of getting the family together and share the year's harvest or income. In essence, we celebrate this to give thanks for having survived the past year and for enjoying good health and fortune. Family is considered fortune. Superstitions or not, it is a good and meaningful celebration and a nice break from our daily chores.
In Western observance, New Year's resolution is the way to improve the coming year. While feng shui experts offer some advice what one can do physically to improve his luck and fortune by preparing these tangible items, it is always tagged with advice that perseverance, hard work, patience and all these other virtues determine and shape a man's future. Mother fate can only do so much. But these traditions date back to ancient times and bring identity to the Chinese community and set them apart from the rest of the world. And Chinese cultures are deep-seated in Philippine society and have influenced the people in so many ways that taking part in this celebration is a good way to show solidarity and spirit.
Chinese New Year is celebrated by all Chinese across the world. In my younger days, Chinese New Year was a rest day, school's out and the workplace is closed for the holiday. As I get older, I have discovered more about this tradition that I have taken for granted.
Chinese New Year,' Xin Nian' also known as Spring Festival falls in January or February every year. The calculation for the commencement of a new year is based on the lunar calendar; which correspond with the moon cycle. Hence, the date differs year by year. Chinese New Year celebrations last for 15 days, the first two days observed more prominently. This year, Chinese New Year will begin on the 26th January, 2009.
There is a mythology about Xin Nian that is being told to me as a child. According to legends, a mythical beast called, 'Nian' visit villages on the first day of New Year, terrorise the villagers and devour their livestock and crops. To protect themselves against 'Nian', the villagers would put food at their doorstep. It is believed that the beast would eat the food prepared and would not attack the people. There was also another tale about the beast scared away by a child wearing red clothing. Hence if you would often see homes in red decorations like red lanterns, red scrolls and red banner at the door and there are usually the symbolic red in New Year's attire. Firecrackers made into the shape of bamboos are fired to frighten away the beast.
Like Christmas, preparation for Chinese New Year starts a few weeks earlier. There will be preparation of food, cakes, tarts and biscuits which are make to be given away as gifts and to serve their guest during the celebrations. Young couples will buy gifts for their elders as a form of respect and to thank them for their guidance. The homes will be given a good clean as it is bad luck to bring an unclean home into the New Year. This is also the time for new things, new curtains, and new furniture if needed. Most importantly, new set of clothes to wear during the celebrations and yes, it will usually be in shades of red.
The most important meal is the reunion dinner on the eve of the New Year. This is the dinner where everyone in the family, from grandparents to grand children gathered for a feast. As from the word reunion dinner, it is a time for family to reunite, mend ties and celebrate. After dinner, some families would visit the flower market or participate in some outdoor celebrations. This is the night where children are not asked to go to bed early. There is a belief that the longer a child stays up on Chinese New Year's Eve, the parents would enjoy longevity. It is called 'Shou Sui'
The first two day of the Chinese New Year is the time for visiting. There is a hierarchy here; the eldest in the family would always be visited by the youngest members. If the grandparents are still living, then it would be in that order of seniority. Two mandarin oranges are usually presented to the host together with a greeting such as 'Xin Nian quai le' which means Happy New Year. The host would then return the gesture with a different set of mandarin oranges. Mandarin oranges symbolise gold nugget from ancient China.
During the celebrations, auspicious words are exchanged. For example, you would say, 'Good luck for your studies' for a student, 'May you have a successful career' for a working person, 'Good health be with you' for the elderly and 'May your business prosper' for business people. With well wishes flowing everywhere, it's hard not to start the New Year positively.
This is also the time when married couples will give red packet, 'Hong Bao' containing money to children, singles and the elders. It is a symbol of good luck to children for their studies, singles to find the right partner and the elders for good health. The amount of money in the red packet varies usually depending on the relationship and it will be in even denomination.
There are many code of practice during the Chinese New Year celebrations, which some would call superstition. Though I don't think there is much truth in it, somehow as it is ingrained inside me, I do unconsciously follow some of the practice.
Some of the practices are:
-Opening windows and doors to bring good luck into the New Year.
-Homes have to be cleaned before the New Year and no one should clean the house especially sweeping the floor on the first day as it will sweep away good fortune for the New Year.
-Black and white is symbol of death and bad luck and should not be worn during the celebrations.
-Used words that mean abundance in conversation, avoid words like 'finished',' loosing', or 'death'
- Argument and foul language are inappropriate and discourage during the Chinese New Year.
-Certain dishes are consumed for good luck, for example, there is a raw fish salad that is commonly serve during the Chinese New Year period in Malaysia and Singapore and it symbolises continuous abundance and wealth throughout the year.
For many Chinese, Chinese New Year is a new start, a new beginning. The codes of practices or superstitions are basically to ensure a good start into the new year. I have never bother to understand them but sometimes, after a lousy year, I do want to be able to leave that behind and start a fresh New Year.
And I have an excuse to do just that.
Happy Chinese New Year to all the Chinese members, members who celebrate this joyous occasion and those who want to have another chance to start the new year again.
Chinese New Year is the most important festival for all the Chinese, on regard you are celebrity or normal, abroad or at home, young or old, this is everyone's festival.
In China, the date of spring festival is according to the calendar of agriculture, because agriculture is the most important fair in ancient China. It will mostly in Jan or Feb. By that time, all the Chinese people became to think their family, and their hometown. So, almost 200,000,000 will move toward home in all kind of transportation way - bus, train and plain, that is the darkest time for the transport system of China. But all of these difficulties can stop the Homesickness of Chinese.
At the night of spring festival, Chinese family will get together and talk about each other - what they did and what they are going to do - they call in 'Gua Nian', that is say to pass the old year to a new one. People will eat Dumplings and other Chinese food together. At the next day, people will go out and meet their relatives and neighbors - bring with their best wishes.
If you want to travel to China for the spring festival, you'd better make a careful plan. Because traffic the many times burden than ordinary time, and you may find it so hard to order air ticket and hotel. But you will experience the real Chinese culture if you can live with a Chinese family - it will also reduce the cost.
Its a new year for new beginnings and the new Chinese year this time will be The Rooster.
The year of the rooster comes around every twelve years and if your born under or between any of the dates below then youre a rooster.
31.1.1957 / 15.2.1958
17.2.1969 / 5.2.1970
5.2.1981 / 24.1.1982
23.1.1993 / 9.2.1994
Anyone born this Chinese new year which starts in January will also be a rooster.
There are twelve animals in the Chinese year and each comes into play once every twelve years, each has a particular character which strangely enough you can relate it to your own character if you are know which animal you are.
I have a rooster child and she is very much like the character of the rooster, as are my dragon child and my goat child. Im a rat and I can even see the familiarities in my character of this sign.
The Rooster Character.
The rooster of course is a solar sign, as roosters rise with the sun. The rooster is also a proud creature and a guardian or protector of its family. Therefore the character of the rooster person will be honesty, frankness, very helpful and courageous. Although they can sometimes be vain and thoughtless and a little preoccupied with how they look. Nevertheless, the rooster will work hard at their jobs and succeed in what they choose to do, even though money may not be easy to handle.
The rooster person loves to spend money on clothes and nice things for the house. Luck wise the rooster might not have much as the rooster in its life has to scratch around in the earth to find food, so the rooster person has to work hard for what they want to achieve. If however the rooster person is born in the spring, they will have a better life as there is more abundance of food in spring for the rooster.
A rooster is very attentive, protective and kind, but can be a little jealous at times.
They do make a bad enemy as the rooster animal will usually fight to the death for his hens.
A rooster cannot resist admiration from others, but likes to spend holiday times in a quiet place. They hate for others to be nosy, especially in their private lives. They love to read and be with other people in their spare time. A lucky colour for them is yellow and this can sometimes be their favourite colour.
If thinking about which jobs are the best for them, consider sales director, the military, restaurant owner, teacher, farmer or representative.
THE ROOSTER CHILD
If like me you have brought up or are bringing up a rooster child, you might find this part interesting. I for one never lost my rooster child, I could always hear her when she was playing out, they have a voice that carries and will always be the on organising the crowd. The ringleader in most pranks and the leader of the group. They will be the loudest at parties and love to entertain, sing, recite poetry or arrange their friends to take part in plays and acts which have to be performed in front of an audience of parents.
They are alert, open and full of life, everything is interesting to them and they drink up knowledge like its water.
They get very enthusiastic about something new which interests them and will surprise you at how exceptionally gifted they will be at something which interests them, but it usually is not for long as their attention will go onto something new very quickly.
My daughter was always the top in school at reading and writing and won prizes at prize giving. She won the eisteddfod music festival in Wales when she was seven, getting herself on the television, after we had moved to Wales when she was five, reciting poetry in welsh.
She spoke fluent welsh at the age of eight and did lots of other surprising art work, poetry, dance as a child.
It wouldnt have surprised me if shed have been the next prime minister, but she soon went onto other things which interested her more.
The rooster child will always find new friends easily, they like to get to know people and are rarely shy. They get jealous sometimes and this can lead to tantrums and a lot of shouting or strutting around. Its a challenge bringing up a rooster child, but its never a dull moment.
THE ROOSTERS LOVE LIFE
The rooster has lots of charm and will have lots of admirers but they can sometimes be more interested in the number of admirers they have than the actual people who admire them.
They usually choose the one who they know can support them and be able to look after a family. They can sometimes be difficult to live with as like I said before they do get jealous, of other friends and if their independence is threatened.
If this jealousy is in play they can be very off hand or frank which can lead to hurtful remarks and arguments.
If you are in love with a rooster be careful not to flirt around, or over power them with passion as they like to take the lead and are very sensual on all levels.
They make very good parents and are aware of their responsibilities. If a rooster has made a commitment to you and your family they will stand by this as they are usually against divorce.
They make firm but warm parents and the children will not want for anything.
If you are married to a rooster then its best to keep your own finances or earn your own money because roosters are not good at budgeting, they love to spend money.
If your going out with a rooster and want to keep them, make sure you make them feel special, have good prospects for the future as they need security.
Share the same interests and be prepared to share the responsibilities of the family.
Tell them how intelligent and good looking they are as flattery will get you everywhere.
The rooster is a proud and good looking, they love to strut about and you will have to be prepared to keep up with their pace.
Have a wonderful new year, its going to be a good one at last.