I know, it feels like there's something to celebrate every day these days, doesn't it? As Nicky said in her blog last week - we seem to have a calendar of events to respond to. But Chinese new year is something my family has always celebrated, possibly because of our past life in Asia, or maybe because it's a great excuse to cook Chinese food and just be together. So today, because it was my turn to write a blog, and because I've never really known what Chinese new year is all about, I decided to find out a bit more about the celebration and even the Chinese zodiac. This is what I've learnt: What is Chinese new year? 'The Chinese festival marking the start of the new year, beginning on the second new moon after the winter solstice and ending on the full moon fifteen days later. It is marked by visits to family and friends, special meals, fireworks, and gift giving.' Thank you, Google.

This year is the year of the Goat - it is the eighth year of the 12-year Chinese zodiac, and its lucky numbers are three, four and nine. Its lucky flowers are carnation, primrose and Alice flower. Anyone born in a Goat year should avoid inauspicious coffee or gold.

I am a Tiger, my boyfriend is a Pig - and apparently those two signs are compatible (no need to call off the wedding then...). Having read on, I reached a point where I could find out whether I was a Wood, Fire, Earth, Gold or Water Tiger. If you want to know, I'm a Fire Tiger - 'optimistic and independent, with poor self-control' - a scarily accurate portrayal of me.

But what does any of this have to do with communications? Well, the truth is not a lot! Chinese new year is one of the oldest and most important Chinese traditions and the Chinese zodiac has always been very important to Chinese people, especially the characteristics relating to each animal. So apart from an excuse to order a takeaway, did you know anything about this celebration? Have you ever stopped to read about it all? I certainly haven't ventured further than that shallow research above, but I intend to read more. It's important to understand and respect different cultures both in our business and personal lives. It's a chance to widen your cultural awareness and communicate better with people from other cultures - and that's never a bad thing.

Happy Chinese new year from theblueballroom.

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