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Be a Tiger: Gung Hay Fat Choy! (or Hey Fatty!)

February 14, 2010

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day. But for those of us who aren’t feeling so rosy-red in the romance department, why not be a tiger?

No- not in the ‘Wood-sy’ way  (which brings up different romantic associations altogether), in the Chinese way.

Today is Chinese New Year (also a red letter day). Gung Hay Fat Choy means “Best wishes and congratulations! Have a prosperous and good year”.

In honor of the Year of the Tiger, I prowled New York’s Chinatown yesterday to take a peek at the festivity preparations.

Tiger Tchotchkes

Cheap and Chic

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese Holidays. Festivities last for days and include many rituals designed to bring luck for the coming year.    Families come together, there are fireworks, festivities and parades (New York’s Chinatown holds two this year, one on the 14th and another on the 21st).

The color red, which Chinese believe is symbolic of courage, loyalty, honor, success, fortune, fertility, happiness and passion, is everywhere.  Special red envelopes called hong bao are used during the New Year to give monetary gifts to friends and family.

The tiger is the third of twelve Chinese zodiacal animals.  I have tried to figure out what it means to be in a tiger year, and frankly, have NO IDEA.  But a little Googling produces a series of puzzling sites like which make equally befuddling statements like:

2010 is the Year of White Tiger, which contains Metal, Wood and Fire. If your Lucky Element is Metal, Wood or Fire, then 2010 will bring you some degree of luck. However, Wood can help Fire to burn, and Metal and Fire are opposite elements. If your Lucky Element is Metal, then Wood and Fire will be unlucky elements. If your Lucky Element is Wood, then Metal should be an unlucky element. This tells us that most people will gain some and lose some in 2010.

Uh-huh. Siegfried and Roy, eat you heart out…

Roy would know about winning some and losing some.

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