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A lot cultures have symbolic foods, such as the Yule Log cake. But so many Chinese New Year desserts have special meanings behind them. Take the tangyuan for example. It symbolizes success each and every year. People dye it festive colors. Chinese people love drinking. This means that you need to have wine for every ceremony, festival or important dinner.
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They include the order of toasts, seating, how you hold the wine glass etc. To learn more read our post on Chinese New Year's drinks and etiquette. Every family will deck their homes in this color. Do you remember the story about Nian? Red is also an invaluable weapon, and used in nearly all Chinese New Year decorations.
The Chinese will hang up red lanterns and strings of real or fake chili peppers, paste red paper onto doors and windows, and more!
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New clothes are also believed to bring good luck and start over fresh. People will add new red clothing to their Spring Festival wardrobe too. Western horoscopes include 12 zodiacs, one for each month. There are 12 Chinese zodiacs as well, but the animal is for the entire year. But as a zodiac, their positive traits are bestowed on people born that year. They play a much bigger role than in Western cultures. Your animal can decide your career, health and relationship success. Make sure you find out what zodiac animal you are! And of the 12 year cycle, it is the unluckiest for you.
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There are multiple explanations for this. The Chinese believe that children can easily be taken by demons. And your benming year is your rebirth year. During this year, your weapon of defense is the color red. Just as you can decorate your home in red for protection and fortune, you can also wear red clothing. Many people will wear red underwear every day of the year. Others add on red shirts, pants, jewelry, insoles and more! The real age is the one we all know about. You grow one year older on your birthday. The nominal age though, increases with the Spring Festival.
The name Ophiuchus comes from two Greek words meaning serpent and holding. Can you see the Pipe Nebula a little to the upper right of center? If not, click here and put your cursor over the photo. View larger. Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer. Deep-sky objects in Ophiuchus.
On a night when the moon is absent, take your binoculars and use them to scan Ophiuchus, which lies near the band of the Milky Way and so has many deep-sky wonders. Ophiuchus boasts of numerous globular clusters, for example. The two easiest globular clusters to see with ordinary binoculars are M10 and M12, as shown on the above chart.
Through binoculars, they look like faint puffs of light, but with the telescope, you begin to see these globular clusters for what they really are. They are immense stellar cities spanning a hundred to a few hundred light-years in diameter, teeming with hundreds of thousands of stars.
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Another big deep-sky favorite is the Pipe Nebula, a vast interstellar cloud of gas and dust sweeping across about 7 o of sky. This dark nebula resides at a distance of to light-years in southern Ophiuchus, and can be seen with the unaided eye in a dark, transparent sky. These two stars but not the Pipe Nebula are shown on the above chart. The Greek Asclepius or Latin Aesculapius.
The constellation Ophiuchus represents this legendary physician. Ophiuchus in myth and star lore. In Greek sky lore, Ophiuchus represents Asclepius — said to have been the first doctor — always depicted holding a great serpent or snake. This greatly alarmed the gods as it threatened to undo the natural order of things. As the good doctor was trying to bring Orion the Hunter back to life, the god of the Underworld pleaded to Zeus, the king of the gods, to reconsider the ramifications of the death of death.
Apparently his argument swayed the king of the gods. Zeus confiscated the potion, removed Asclepius from Earth and placed the gifted physician into the starry heavens. We hardly know how the god of the Underworld made his appeal. Perhaps he said only that which never lives never dies, and that no mortal can have one without the other.
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The absence of death means the absence — not the continuance — of life. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally last 15 days, from the first day during a new moon to the 15th day next full moon. Each day holds a special significance that varies according to local traditions. But first, before the arrival of the new year, homes are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away ill fortune and to welcome good luck.
The celebration culminates on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival; on this night of the full moon, families mingle in the streets carrying lighted lanterns, often creating a beautiful light display. Image via Philo Vivero via Wikimedia Commons. There are several variations on the mythology behind Chinese New Year celebrations.
Most are based on an ugly, bloodthirsty monster named Nian that would emerge on the last night of each year to destroy villages and eat people. A wise elder advised villagers to scare the monster away with loud noises. That night, they set fire to bamboo, lit fireworks, and banged their drums. The monster, afraid of the loud noises and lights, ran away to hide in its cave. In another version of the myth, an old man persuaded Nian to turn its wrath on other monsters, not the villagers.
Before he was seen riding away on Nian, the old man, actually a god, advised the people to hang red paper decorations in their homes and set off firecrackers on the last night of the year to keep Nian away.
pierreducalvet.ca/90401.php Traditional Chinese New Year Decoration. Image via Fanghong via Wikimedia Commons.
The date is determined in the traditional Chinese calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar system, using both lunar and solar cycles to mark time. Each Chinese lunar year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. EarthSky lunar calendars are cool! They make great gifts.