Ringing in the Year of the Rabbit

by Susan Leem, associate producer

Chinese New Year in SpainParading in Puerta del Sol, Spain. (photo: PepeZoom/Flickr)

One of the most important Chinese holidays is Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year. Following the lunar calendar, this year the celebration fell on Thursday, February 3rd, which is also the year of the rabbit. The rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Images of the rabbit become part of the celebration. The theme for festivities is to spread luck and good fortune, and the rabbit (remember your lucky rabbit’s foot?) is symbolic for both.

Hkg4529372White Cloud Temple in Beijing. (photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Oranges and tangerines also symbolize good luck and wealth. The word for tangerine has the same sound as “luck” in Chinese, and the word for orange sounds like “wealth.”

Oranges, symbols of good luck and wealth Singapore Chinatown (photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images).

The presence of leaves are important too, representing longevity, branches of a family, and a secure relationship with the person to which you are gifting the leafy citrus.

Hkg4534682Chinatown in Manila, Phillipines. (photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

Red is an important color in Chinese culture; it represents integrity and strength. Red envelopes, as seen in the image above, are called Hong Bao and are given to children and unmarried people with an even number (odd numbers are traditionally for funerals) of Chinese Yuan. Red is a central color in Chinese weddings as they promote good fortune.

Fortune sticks for Lunar New YearAn elderly woman reads her fortune in Hong Kong. (photo: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

Hkg4531801Singapore’s Chinatown. (photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)

Economic data for Asia has been upbeat so far this year, but it doesn’t hurt to create as auspicious an environment as possible for 2011.

Hkg4537578A dragon dance on the trading floor of the Philippine Stock Exchange in Manila. (photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

Lighting incense at a Chinese temple in Indonesia. (Photo credit should read Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)An incense offering in Indonesia. (photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Hkg4537565People pray and burn offerings of joss sticks at a Hong Kong temple. (photo: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

San Francisco's ChinatownWalking through remnants of firecrackers in San Francisco’s Chinatown. (photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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