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NYC to welcome ‘Year Of The Monkey’ with Lunar New Year Festival

Fireworks over the Hudson River for the Chinese Lunar New Year on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. (Credit: CBS2)

CBS New York/AP:

 New York City will be celebrating the Lunar New Year with a five-day festival early next month.

The Year of the Monkey Celebration” runs from Feb. 6 through Feb. 10.

The festival, presented by the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, is hosting a myriad of events, including the “The Fantastic Art China” exhibition at the Javits Center, where traditional and contemporary Chinese artworks will be showcased.

Environmental conservation efforts for monkeys in China also will be highlighted.

A Hudson River fireworks display set to the music of Oscar and Grammy Award winner Tan Dun is scheduled for Feb. 6.

The Empire State Building is also planning a light display for Feb. 6 and Feb. 8. And the New York Philharmonic’s 5th Annual Chinese New Year Concert will be held at Lincoln Center on Feb. 9.

Last June, Mayor Bill de Blasio made the Lunar New Year an official public school holiday. An estimated 15 percent of New York City school children celebrate the Lunar New Year.

ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” and Panda Express, America’s favorite Chinese restaurant, are joining together to celebrate Chinese New Year

Broadway World:

ABC‘s “Fresh Off the Boat” and Panda Express, America’s favorite Chinese restaurant, are joining together to celebrate Chinese New Year and encourage viewers and guests alike to join in on the celebration. Panda Express restaurants across the country will display special branded “Fresh Off the Boat” Chinese New Year Posters and table tents featuring the Huangs.

To see how the Huang family celebrates Chinese New Year, viewers can watch “Fresh Off the Boat” when it returns with an all-new episode on Tuesday, February 2 (8:00-8:30 p.m. EST).

Episode:
“Year of the Rat” – The Huangs are getting everything in order to celebrate Chinese New Year with their family in Washington, D.C. But a mix-up with their plane tickets forces them to spend the holiday in Orlando. Scrambling to find other Asians to celebrate with, they stumble upon the Asian-American Association of Orlando, which is hosting a less than authentic interpretation of a Chinese New Year celebration.

chinese-learning-kit

To encourage learning about the history and traditions surrounding Chinese New Year and share ideas to help consumers join the celebration, Panda Express created a special website, CelebrateCNY.com.

The site features an animated video about the 15-day festival, activities for kids and special classroom curriculum for teachers. Other site features include an app that helps visitors send New Year’s greetings through virtual red envelopes, a guide to find your Chinese zodiac sign and information on special in-store offers for February 8, the first day of Chinese New Year.

More than six million students have learned about Chinese New Year through Panda’s education materials since 2007.

Hollywood Reporter: Jackie Chan touts success of ‘Dragon Blade,’ declares his patriotism

The Hollywood Reporter:

Hong Kong action legend Jackie Chan celebrated the success of his latest historical action movie Dragon Blade, which this week passed the $80 million threshold in China, and responded to accusations of nationalism by saying he was a proud patriot.

Chan stars as the commander of the Protectorate of the Western Regions who teams up with Lucius to protect China’s borders and sovereignty, which has prompted accusations that Chan is playing the patriotic card in the hunt for box-office success.

I have always been a patriot. Is it wrong? If people are cursed for being a patriot, please curse me,” Chan told M1905, the official web site of state broadcaster CCTV’s movie channel CCTV6.”Seven years ago, I wanted to do this film. I didn’t make the film because the government policy wants to protect the Silk Road. I am ahead of them. I hope chairman Xi (Jinping) gets to watch this film.”

Dragon Blade was the big winner of the Lunar New Year holiday to welcome the Year of the Goat, taking $72 million in its first six days in the country.

Starring Chan, Cusack and Brody and directed by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is based on a story about a missing legion of Roman soldiers that traveled into China in 48 BC. The cast also includes South Korea‘s Choi Si-won, member of the K-pop band Super Junior, who previously appeared in Battle of Wits.

Cusack plays Lucius, a Roman general who led a legion of 1,000 soldiers into Han Dynasty China. Brody plays Tiberius, who after assassinating Rome’s Consul Crassus chases after Lucius with a force of 100,000 soldiers.

Chan was speaking at an event in Beijing to celebrate Dragon Blade passing the 500 million yuan ($80 million) mark. Chan went on to say that he doesn’t care about box office or online promotion. “I don’t understand e-commerce. After I finish shooting, it’s finished,” he said.

Chan recently welcomed his son Jaycee home from jail by giving him a haircut. Jaycee Chan‘s long locks seemed to have survived his six months in jail after being convicted of drugs charges, having been caught up in the government’s aggressive anti-narcotics campaign.

 

China media pooh-poohs Japanese luxury toilet seats

Japan Times: 

Japan’s luxury lavatories have become the latest flash point with China, after Beijing’s state-run media launched a thunderous tirade against built-in washers and pre-warmed seats on Thursday.

The Global Times, which is affiliated with the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, devoted the editorial in both its English and Chinese editions to the subject, under the headline: “Popularity of Japanese toilet seats overstated.”

Buying Japanese toilets “makes a mockery of China’s boycott of Japanese goods,” it said.

That Chinese tourists swamp Japanese stores at a time when the country is facing a sluggish domestic demand is certainly not something to be proud of,” it said.

The two countries are at loggerheads over the East China Sea islets which Tokyo controls and calls Senkakus and Beijing claims as Diaoyu. Both sides have repeatedly sent ships and aircraft to the area.

But despite their political differences Asia’s two biggest economies have close business ties, and roughly half a million Chinese tourists descended on Japan over this month’s Lunar New Year holiday, spending an estimated $882 million, according to Nomura Securities.

It was unclear why the Global Times focused its ire on the smallest room, but it may have been triggered by a Beijing Youth Daily article which said the seats were second only to rice cookers in popularity among Chinese tourists visiting Japan.

The high-tech bathroom accessories, often equipped with multiple water jets, hot air dryers and automatic lid raisers, are common throughout Japan and are often seen as a status symbol among the Chinese nouveau riche.

The Global Times acknowledged that the toilets’ popularity “is not accidental as they explicitly show the human touch, intelligent design and sophistication of Japanese goods.”

But it added: “World-class toilet seats are not what Chinese manufacturers aspire to make.”

Hong Kong leader calls on citizens to be more like sheep, ‘Mild and Gentle Animals’

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Hong Kong’s chief executive, his highness CY Leung, delivered a Chinese New Year greeting exactly as you would expect him to.

Next Shark:

To ring in the Year of the Sheep, Leung, known for his distrust of poor people, wants the citizens of Hong Kong to be like sheep, “mild and gentle animals” that aren’t known for holding pro-democracy protests. His statement was released in a video he filmed from the Government House (read imperial palace) and which featured his wife, Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, and a group of smiling children who reportedly aren’t paid actors, because of course he wouldn’t pay them.

“Another Chinese New Year has arrived. It is time to bid farewell to the Year of the Horse and welcome the Year of the Sheep. The 12 Chinese zodiac animals represent 12 character types. Sheep are widely seen to be mild and gentle animals living peacefully in groups.

Last year was no easy ride for Hong Kong. Our society was rife with differences and conflicts. In the coming year, I hope that all people in Hong Kong will take inspiration from the sheep’s character and pull together in an accommodating manner to work for Hong Kong’s future.

At the beginning of the Year of the Sheep, we wish every one of you good health, great happiness and a harmonious family life.”

According to Shanghaiist, Hong Kong Democratic Party Chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing told SCMP that, while in his mind, he was probably referring to the virtues of the sheep, like loyalty and compassion, Leung has been anything but.

“[But] then he himself is doing exactly the opposite to provoke so much confrontation and he is tearing the society apart. It’s very contradictory and duplicitous.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to know then that most people in Hong Kong consider him more of a wolf. Add the fact that China’s leading linguist actually said it’s the Year of the Goat, not the Sheep, and CY Leung is just making promotional videos full of wishful thinking.

CY Leung’s daughter, make-believe, aspiring model Chai Yan, has not yet released her annual thank you statement to the tax-paying sheep of Hong Kong.

Free egg rolls at Panda Express for Chinese New Year

custom-FCCB-Free-Gold-BarFoodBeast:

Who: Panda Express

What: One free chicken egg roll. Must present printed-out coupon or show coupon through mobile device

When: Thursday, February 19

Where: All participating Panda Express stores

Why: In celebration of Chinese New Year

 

Why do people get cash stuffed into red envelopes during Chinese New Year?

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Next Shark: 

Red envelopes have been a staple of Chinese New Year for as long as anyone can remember. No matter whether you celebrate the holiday or not, you’ve probably wondered why your Asian friends receive red envelopes filled with cash every year. Heck, many recipients of red envelopes don’t know why either.

Origins

Unfortunately, there is no one consensus on where the red envelopes came from. One popular story dates back to the Qing Dynasty, where the elderly would thread coins with a red string. This money was called yāsuì qián, meaning “money warding off evil spirits,” and was believed to protect elder people from sickness and death. As the printing press became more common, the yāsuì qián was replaced with red envelopes.

Another legend tells of a village where a demon would terrorize children at night. It was believed that the demon would touch the children’s heads while they were asleep, causing serious illness or death. From there, a theory emerged that when they prayed, God would send eight fairies to protect the child. The fairies would disguise themselves as eight coins and hide under the child’s pillow. When the demon would get close, the coins would began to shine very bright, blinding the demon. Word began to spread and the villagers started giving out red envelopes filled with coins to each other to put under their pillows at night. As time passed, red envelopes became a way to bring good luck and prosperity to the receiver.

How much do you get?

The amount of money depends on the occasion, but the amount typically ends with an even digit, as odd numbers are traditionally associated with funerals. Additionally, it is believed that money should never be given in fours, nor should the number “4” appear in the amount (i.e: 400, 444, 4004), as the chinese word for “four” sounds similar to the word “death.”

Who gets them?

During Chinese New Year, red envelopes are typically given by the married to children and the unmarried. The red symbolizes good luck and the money wishes the recipient good fortune for times to come. The red envelopes are also used to fend off bad spirits. It’s not uncommon for red envelopes to be given during birthdays and other special occasions as well.

Chinese weddings are also occasions when red envelopes come into play. The amount given is supposed to cover the cost of the attendees and as a way to wish the newlyweds good luck. While red envelopes shouldn’t be opened in front of the giver, it’s different during weddings. During Chinese weddings, there is a table at the front of the wedding reception where guests can drop off red envelopes as gifts and sign their names on a large scroll. The envelopes are then immediately opened, counted and then recorded to show how much each guest gave. Why? It’s mainly to bookkeep and to make sure the money matches with what the guests brought at the end of the night. Another reasons is that when single guests finally get married, the bride and groom are expected to give the guest more money than what they received at their own wedding.

At work, it’s a tradition that Chinese companies give away red envelopes to their employees on the eve of Chinese New Year. Alibaba has participated in the tradition before, however, according to Fortune, CEO Jack Ma recently announced that they will not give away red envelopes this year due to mediocre performance.

Other Etiquette

You’re also supposed to avoid putting coins in the envelopes, which makes it difficult for people to gauge the amount before opening. Also it’s tradition to put crisp, new bills inside, which explains why my grandma always went to the bank to switch old bills with new ones every year.

So, there you have it… Happy Chinese New Year!