Gong Hei Fat Choi - Happy New Year

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Staff from two hospital trusts in Cumbria will celebrate Chinese New Year on Saturday.

It will be the Year of the Rat.

People born in the Year of the Rat are said to be very industrious, thrifty, diligent and positive.

Chien Nee Gan, 25, a foundation doctor at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust based at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, is flying back to Malaysia to celebrate with her family.

She said: “This is my first year in Cumbria and I am flying back to Malaysia to celebrate with my family back home.

“However, when I was a student, we used to do steamboats (hot pots) or potlucks (buffet party) at a friend's place during Chinese New Year.

“We also do something called 'lou sang', it is an appetiser dish and it is like a tradition to start the new year with prosperous wishes.

 “I was born in Malaysia and have always celebrated Chinese New Year in Malaysia so I have not actually celebrated in China.

“All of my family is residing in Malaysia now, including my grandparents generation.”

Dr Val Yeung is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (CNTW) Foundation Trust. She is also Associate Medical Director of Cumbria CBU.

She said: “People will eat lots of food, enjoy fireworks, wear special clothes and hang lanterns to mark the occasion.

“Because it depends on the moon, the date of Chinese New Year actually changes each year, but it will always fall some time between January 21 and February 20.

“In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of 12 animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

“So the animals will have a year dedicated to them once every 12 years in a cycle.

“Before the festivities begin, people clean their homes really well to make them ready for the celebrations.

“Then, when New Year’s Day comes, there is a tradition not to pick up a broom, in case you sweep the good luck for the New Year out of the door.”

Dr Yeung added: “In China, schools and businesses can close for the first few days of the new year, so that everyone can spend time with their families.

“People enjoy eating lots of delicious food, including noodle soup, which traditionally brings luck for the year ahead.

“There will be parades and performances with people dressed in traditional clothes.

“Fireworks are also set off, because it is thought that noise and lights will scare away any evil spirits for the coming months.

“Adults might give red envelopes to children with money inside too.

“The festivities continue for two weeks, finishing with a special lantern festival, which signals the end of the New Year celebration period.”

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