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Chinese New Year - Year of the Snake

- Happy New Year! Oh, how we mortals thrive upon hope...particularly as we endure cold and long winters. Whether that hope comes in the form of awaiting the verdict of a groundhog, looking forward to the first day of baseball's spring training or, as it happens to exist this year - an event that falls right in between the two - Chinese New Year, we embrace annual traditions and the promise of celebration and starting anew. When celebrations are marked with color, fun and festivity, as the Chinese New Year is, they rarely go unnoticed. So, even when we're not of Chinese descent, the idea of lit firecrackers, glowing lanterns, dragons, dance, great food, and yes even housecleaning (which connotes making way for better things) we hold affection for the Chinese New Year. This year it's described as the Year of the Water Black Snake.

The exact date of the Chinese New Year varies annually and follows the pattern of the moon, falling on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This year will be a lucky one for intellectuals and a good year for marriage, but it's a time to save money and stay alert. The snake is cunning, intelligent, proud, vain, vicious, exciting, dark and graceful. According to happywishingwell.com, "2013 is a well-rounded year, as trends turn to sophistication, intellect, grace and enlightenment. It's a good year for money, commerce, entrepreneurship and business. The arts flourish, especially music, theater, writing, fashion, design and water-based media. Travel is on the rise."

Of course, the year holds different promises depending on when you were born. Check out how your particular sign relates to this Chinese New Year and how you can prepare here.

To celebrate:

1. Clean the house. This has to be done BEFORE the New Year arrives to get rid of all bad luck.

2. Decorate. Remember, red is a lucky color.

3. Cook festive food, such as dumplings, jai, whole fish and uncut noodles.

How do you celebrate the Chinese New Year?

About the author: Shana is a friend of House Party. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and concerts. Her party tip: Dessert, specifically chocolate.

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