The rabbit’s out and the dragon’s in: get ready for one of Asia’s biggest cross-cultural celebrations, nearly 5,000 years old, the Chinese New Year. In Cambodia, we’ll be able to enjoy January 23 to 25 off from work or school as official holidays to soak in the Chinese spirit and welcome the long-awaited year of the dragon.
The Chinese believe that among the 12 zodiac animals, the dragon is the strongest.
“Each year is special and unique,” said Chea Gech Sang, a nun at Thean In Mi Leak monastery.
“However, the year of the dragon seems to be more special because the Chinese value dragons more than the other [zodiac animals]. They regard dragons as the most powerful creature, so the year of the dragon is often prioritised.”
And the more powerful the zodiac animal is, the more careful you have to be, the Chinese believe. That’s why in Chinese tradition, those born under the year of the dragon will try anything to avoid dating someone with a mismatching zodiac sign.
Cambodian-Chinese Kuong Eng, a Chinese teacher, clarified that those born under the dragon will mismatch with those born under the dog, the ox, and the rabbit. If a dragon and someone born under a mismatching year get together, they cannot get married during the year of the dragon or they will bring bad fortune.
In addition, since this year is the year of the dragon, many women are eager to have a ‘dragon baby’ and start a new family.
Keo Samphors, 25, a company employee in Phnom Penh, is also Cambodian-Chinese. She’s been married for two months.
“I don’t really want a baby, but soon it’ll be the year of the dragon – which is great for having a first child,” she said.
“Also, the fortune teller guaranteed me that my family will have good luck and success if I have a child this year. So, I’m committed to giving birth.”
The first day of the Chinese New Year is the day of abstinence – so there probably won’t be much baby-making until the day after. On this day, those celebrating rarely leave home. Dessert is offered to the spirits for a sweet and cool year, and red envelopes (Ang Peov) are handed out with money for good luck.
On the second and third days, it is customary to visit relatives’ homes. On these days, it is strictly prohibited to argue or act negatively towards your family – this will bring bad luck for the rest of the year.
Unlike here in Cambodia, China gets fifteen days for their New Year holiday.
LIFT wishes you all the best for your holiday and we hope you enjoy your time with family and friends. Happy year of the dragon!