The 12 animals representing the Chinese calendar years (repeated every 12 years) are: Pig (1911), Rat (1912), Ox (1913), Tiger (1914), Rabbit (1915), Dragon (1916), Snake 1917, Horse (1918), Goat (1919), Monkey (1920), Rooster (1921), and Dog (1922 ).
In the Chinese year, 2008 was represented by the Rat, while 2009 will be the year of the Ox, which will start on the 26th of January, the first new moon of the year. This will mark the beginning of the 15-day festivities, which will continue until February 9, 2009.
Preparations are already undergoing to make the celebration of the entry of the year of the Ox a magnificent one.
were put on the walls or on the sides of the gate-ways. These couplets, short poems written in Classical Chinese, were expressions of good wishes for the family in the coming year. In addition, symbolic flowers and fruits were used to decorate the house, and colorful New Year pictures (NIAN HUA) were placed on the walls.
GodAfter the house was cleaned it was time to bid farewell to the Kitchen God, or Zaowang. In traditional China, the Kitchen God was regarded as the guardian of the family hearth. He was identified as the inventor of fire, which was necessary for cooking and was also the censor of household morals.
According to legend, the Kitchen God leaves the house on the 23rd of the last month to report to heaven on the behavior of the family during the last year. A negative report by the Kitchen God means a family will suffer from bad luck during the year to come.
In order to ensure a favorable report from the Kitchen God, the custom evolved of feeding him Sticky Cake (Nian Gao). Some said this was either a bribe, or simply a means of ensuring the Kitchen God's mouth was too full of cake to pass on an unfavorable report. Sticky Cake is steamed (as are most Chinese cakes) and made with glutinous rice flour and dried fruit. Traditionally, Sticky Cake is made with peen tong a traditional Chinese brown candy that is available at Asian markets (the glutinous rice flour can also be found at Asian markets).At this time, the family did everything possible to obtain a favorable report from the Kitchen God. On the evening of the 23rd, the family would give the Kitchen God a ritualistic farewell dinner with sweet foods and honey. Some said this was a bribe, others said it sealed his mouth from saying bad things.