The Year of the Tiger - Gong hei fat choy

Julie Man, Partner in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, private client team.
Julie Man
4 min Read

So, today we start off celebrating Chinese New Year. It is an important date and celebration for millions of people around the world.

Across the world many will be celebrating in countries across the Far East such as Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and many more.

Chinese New Year

My family and myself, like many, will be welcoming the Lunar New Year with celebrations lasting up to 15 days. Its importance in the Chinese calendar is seen with the first seven days considered a public holiday in some countries. Celebrations come to a joyous end with the Lantern Festival on 15 February.

In our household, we find ourselves celebrating my husband’s year, the Year of the Tiger – in keeping with the 12 year cycle covering the 12 different animals.

Whenever the year falls on any of the signs of anyone in our household there always seems to be added excitement. We have a good spread - a little dragon, pig and snake too.

What does the 'Year of the Tiger' mean?

In China it is third in the Chinese Zodiac behind the Rat and Ox.

According to legend, the Emperor told the animals there would be a swimming race. The first 12 animals across the river would have the privilege of a year of the zodiac named after them.

The tiger, seeing himself as king of the jungle confident in his speed and vigour, thought he would beat all the other animals. However, at the end of the race when he climbed out of the river, he found that rat had come in first for its cunning and the ox second for its diligence. As the ox was about to win, the rat leapt onto his head and onto the bank. This left the tiger in third place.

Are you a tiger?

Those born in the Year of the Tiger are seen to be courageous, competitive, adventurous, kind, confident, ambitious, enthusiastic, committed and up for a good challenge. However, on the other side they can also be aggressive, arrogant, short-tempered and selfish.

What will you be doing to celebrate?

In our family it is an opportunity for us all to come together and enjoy an important family dinner full of delicious food, which my mother-in-law will spend many days ahead of the meal preparing. No matter what, whether it falls on a school day or work day, we all make a concerted effort to congregate at my mother-in-law’s home.

I try to dress the kids in traditional Chinese outfits, to their dismay, and capture those memorable snapshots (increasingly difficult with a 14 year old, who doesn’t like to have her photo taken but seems to be fine when it comes to TikTok).

There is always a flurry of excitement for the children as they look forward to receiving their little red packets of ‘lucky money’ from married couples, two from each married couple. (Note to self, must remind the kids to receive them with both hands out of respect.)

The kids play, the adults catch up and there is  a lot of noise. My mother-in-law always looks proudly around the table, content that the family are together and enjoying the delicious food -  some dishes are specifically made due to their names and special meanings in line with the celebration.

I find myself trying to remember to tell my own children some of the traditions my own mother used to remind me of, such as not to wash my hair on Chinese New Year for fear of washing away good fortune. At the time I saw it as nagging but now find myself doing the same to pass on the traditions I grew up with.

With the restrictions in the past years and the recent easing of restrictions in the UK, I hope and wish that you have all had, are having, or will be having, a big family feast full of copious amounts of delicious food. I wish that many families will have the chance to come together and bring in the Year of the Tiger.

Lastly, I wish you all happiness and prosperity – “Gong hei fat choy”.

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