Kung hey fat choy
Welcome to the Year of the Tiger

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 28/98) - It's the greatest of all Chinese holidays -- Chinese New Year -- and for 1998, it's the beginning of another year of the tiger.

Over the next few days, Chinese around the world, including the 200 or so in Yellowknife, will be celebrating.

"Chinese New Year is a 15-day event, but today, most people take three days off," said Albert Poon, part-owner of an Asian restaurant that catered a Chinese dinner Sunday at the Prospector.

Chinese New Year is a time for family to be together, much in the same way Christians celebrate Christmas.

Many Chinese clean their homes and bathe before the new year to wash away last year's bad luck. They believe cleaning on New Year's Day will wash luck and money away.

On New Year's Day children get up early to serve their elders tea and in return receive red pockets consisting of lucky money.

Special sweet foods, symbolic of happiness, are also eaten during the day. Chinese also eat fat choy, which is a special, hairy vegetable from the sea said to bring luck to those who eat it.

Many of the traditions are related to the 12-year cycle that forms the basis of Chinese astrology. This is a year of the tiger.

"Tiger is a very ferocious character, a leader," said Tricia Yim-Johnston, organizer of this year's festival at the Prospector.

It's good to have a tiger in the house, she added. They help prevent accidents, fire and robbery.

A tiger is competitive, unimpressed with power and money, and is honest and straightforward, though sensitive to the opinions of others.

On the other hand, a tiger can be stubborn, vain, disobedient and impatient.

In relationships, those born in a tiger year are weak and can be easily heartbroken. Tigers are best matched with pigs, dogs, rabbits and rats.

The year of the tiger is good for people who take risks, such as playing the stock markets. For business people, it should be a steady year.

Tigers years include 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 and 1998.