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Chinese New Year 2005: The Year of the Rooster


Chinese New year is celebrated on the first day of the first moon of the lunar calendar, Feb. 9th, and lasts fifteen days. Celebrate by reading these outstanding Chinese authors whose work has won literary acclaim and spans stories set during the Cultural Revolution, Tianamen Square uprising and even a modern Chinese verson of The Bell Jar.


February 09, 2005
— Chinese New Year, like Western New Year, is a time to make resolutions, sweep your house clean, adorn doorways with red banner singlets inscribed with traditional poetry wishing visitors well, and holiday feasting of symbolic food prepared in advance so knives can be stored away on the day of the holiday to avoid "cutting" the luck. 

Learn more Chinese traditions, stories and events that have shaped modern culture.

Good Luck Life: The Essential guide to Chinese American Celebrations (2005) by Rosemary Gong is the first book to explain the meaning of Chinese holidays and special occassions.

Food Traditions

  • Fish must be served whole and chicken with legs and feet to represent wholeness and togetherness
  • noodles must not be cut to signify a long life
  • Lotus seeds signify fertility and portend male offspring
  • Ginkgo nut - represents silver ingots
  • Black moss seaweed - is a homonym for exceeding in wealth

Children are given Lai-See, red envelopes containing money, and people take to the streets with lanterns and watch dragon dance parades. The plum blossom and the water narcissus are symbolic flowers. If the water nacrcissus blooms on the exact start of New Year, it is an auspicious sign for the coming twelve months.

Try These Important Chinese Authors

Candy, Mian Ming (2004) An international literary phenomenon--now available for the first time in English translation, Candy is one of the most startling cultural artefacts to emerge from contemporary Chinese literature. Its frank and often brutal tone is only amplified by the fact that the book's events are derived largely from the author's own life. Alternating between the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Shenzen (referred to only as 'The South' in the novel), Candy tells the story of a young girl named Hong. Hong leaves school to seek the freedom and opportunity available in the southern city of Shenzen, one of China's so-called 'Special Economic Zones', where Communist controls over culture and economy are relaxed, resulting in a 'frontier' of sorts. However, the freedom that Hong arrives to is of an altogether different sort than what she had anticipated. Hong finds herself adrift in a hellhole infested with rampant drug abuse, prostitution, and other forms of human depravity. Her salvation comes in the form of a young man named Saining, whose dreams likewise led him to the South.

Soul Mountain,(2000) Gao Xinjiang, Chinese dissident playwright and Nobel Prize recipient writes "...having received a new lease on life after an erroneous cancer diagnosis, the author undertakes a journey to the mythical 'Lingshan', a mountain which may exist in reality, but more probably represents a spiritual goal. Each of the 81 chapters exists in a space all its own--there are beautiful stories of the author's journey, legends of long ago, vignettes of village life in a world that tourists never see." J. Maren, Amazon reviewer.

The Crazed, (2003) Ha Jin. Set during the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 this luminous new novel, the author of Waiting deepens his portrait of contemporary Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between convention and individualism, integrity and pragmatism, loyalty and betrayal. Professor Yang, a respected teacher of literature at a provincial university, has had a stroke, and his student Jian Wan—who is also engaged to Yang’s daughter—has been assigned to care for him.

To Live, (2003) Yu Hua.  "...Chinese friends say if you want to know how the Cultural Revolution affected the common people read this. It is an easy fast read that even teens will like. Yu Hua writes it in the first person so that one can feel the emotions of Fugui all the more. If you have yet to start reading modern Chinese literature this is a good starting point and may lead to others. To Live has a power of the importance of life in life itself and deserves wide readership." [amazon]




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