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Ni hao from CHINA

4 November - Email from Ann

Do you know the Twelve Animal Signs in China? Or we can call it the Chinese Zodiac. You might know that many Chinese people strongly believe that the time of a person's birth is the primary factor in determining that person's characteristics. It is essential in China that every person knows which animal sign he is born under and most of Chinese truly believe in the signs.

dragonLegend says Buddha invited all the animals to his kingdom, but only 12 came: rat was the first, then ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Buddha named the year after the animals in the order of arrival.

Emails from Ann

My children and I had two hard weeks. ... We took our exam the day before yesterday. They have a rest these two days. They will come back to school tomorrow and then we will have a holiday to celebrate our Spring Festival, the most important festival in China. We will come back to school on February 7.

Today I found an article about red packet, a special thing in Chinese New Year... At New Year, children and young people are given money in red envelopes. This is known as Lai Si or Hung Bao. "The symbolic giving of the money represents a wish for wealth in the new year".

Email from Lilian about the Spring Festival

I began to enjoy my holiday yesterday. I cleaned my bedroom and made it in perfect order. We always have the general house-cleaning before Spring Festival. We clean everything in the house in order to get rid of the ill-fortune. I must work hard for several days. Many Chinese pay for cleaning now. But I love to do it myself. I think itís a good chance to show my love and I enjoy the cleaning with my family. We talk and sing when we are cleaning.

Email from John about the Lantern Festival

Here is an introduction to the Lantern Festival we celebrated on February 5th this year. "The Lantern Festival (also called Yuanxiao Festival) is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. It is closely related to the Spring Festival. ... One legend tells us that it was a time to worship Taiyi, the God of Heaven in ancient times. ... Another legend associates the Lantern Festival with Taoism. ... A third legend is connected with Buddhism - followers believe that the power of Buddha can dispel darkness."

Email from Pauline about Women's Day

Pauline with her class
From your e-mails, I know a lot of your festivals. I will introduce our festivals to you too. Each year March the 8th is our Women's Day. On that day our women will celebrate. Some of them go out to travel. Some of them go to have a big meal and a party. Our school will organize our teachers to go to travel this year. The happy day is coming. Hope we can have a nice day.


Email from Lilian about Parents' Evening

... the parents were very interested in the information [about the global communication project] and they were thankful that your children love to make friends with theirs and help them to know more about the world.

Email from Lilian about the Ching Ming Festival

burial items from Julie Murphy (watch, pen, money, gold, feng shui mirror ...) Tomorrow is Chinese Ching Ming Festival. Ching Ming is a Chinese rite marking the beginning of spring that is focused on ancestor worship. On this day, people visit gravesites and make offerings to the souls of their deceased relatives. In English, we call it a Ching Ming Festival, Grave-Sweeping Day, Clear and Bright Festival. Ching Ming is held on the 106th day after winter solstice, and usually occurs on April 4 or 5.

On Ching Ming, celebrants traditionally visit ancestral graves, where special rites are held and offerings are made in honor of ancestors. This event occurs in the spring; Chung Yung is a counterpart observance in the fall. Such events are related to the Chinese tradition of receiving blessings from previous generations when undertaking a new venture.

Ching Ming rituals not only include weeding of the area, cleaning of the headstone, and replacing the wilted flowers with fresh ones, but also the lighting of incense and burning of imitation paper money. The burning of the imitation money is for the deceased to use in the afterlife. In addition, food is laid out in front of the headstone as an offering to the spirits of the deceased. The food may include a steamed whole chicken (including the head, which is later twisted off), hard boiled eggs cut in half lengthwise with shell attached, sliced barbecued pork (cha shiu), cut roast pork with crunchy skin attached, and dim sum pastries. In addition, three sets of chopsticks and three Chinese wine cups are arranged above the food and closest to the headstone.

The head of the household usually begins by bowing three times with the wine cup in hand, then pouring the wine on the ground just in front of the headstone. This procedure is usually repeated three times. Each member of the family comes in front of the headstone and bows three times with the right fist held cupped in the left hand. Some families will then eat the food together there at the gravesite, similar to having a picnic with their deceased relatives. It is said to bring good luck to eat the food that was offered to the deceased. It is considered a time for happy communion with ancestors rather than a somber occasion. YOU are our good friends. I think our ancestors will bless you, too!!

Email from Pauline about Labour Day

I want to tell you about a holiday in China that is the Labour's Day. The date is on May 1st each year. We have 7 days off to rest. Nowadays a lot of people travel. Do you have that kind of holiday in your country?

Emails from Ann

Here it's spring now, the weather is warm and windy (April). I like wearing Chinese traditional dress. Qi Pao is the classic dress for Chinese women. The high-necked, closed-collar Qipao/Cheongsam, with a loose chest, fitting waist, and slits, is one of the most versatile costumes in the world. Have you heard of it?

BeijingI've come back from Beijing (May). ... do you know the Summer Palace? Yi He Yuan is the best-kept existing royal garden in Beijing. ... with ancient buildings and styles of gardening. The Summer Palace first named the Garden of Clear Ripples, was burnt down by the allied forces of Great Britain and France in 1860. Rebuilding started 25 years later and was completed in 1895.

... The fifth day in May of lunar calendar was the Dragon Boat Festival. People celebrated the festival with Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings). My mother-in-law made many kinds of Zongzi for us. They are very delicious.

Email from John about Children's Day

June 1st is the Children's Day in China. We will have one day off. Many activities for children will be celebrated in all the cities around China.

School terms and holidays in China

Every year we have two terms and every term is about twenty weeks long. We have the Winter Holiday about four weeks long for our Spring Festival and the Summer Holiday about seven weeks long for the end of one school year and the summer. The Winter Holiday usually occurs on January or February and the Summer Holiday usually occurs on July and August. We always begin our new school year on September 1.

Winter Vacation in China, John

Amy's pupils, Chengdu - Morning Exercise All the schools on Mainland China will start our winter vacation for about 3 or 4 weeks. Our partner teacher from East China, Pauline told me that she will give birth to a child in August 2005. You know in China we have one child family policy, so let's express our sincere expectation to see her child come into our new world peacefully with so many people from the globe to dream together.


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We would like to thank George Sexton, NOAA for the photo at the top of the page.

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