Gong Xi Fa Ca!

That’s the traditional Chinese New Year greeting that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin.  The first day of the Chinese New Year began at midnight on January 23 and runs until February 6.  This is the most important of Chinese holidays, celebrated by over 1.3 billion people in China and by millions of ethnic Chinese around the world.  The celebration lasts 15 days and culminates with the Lantern Festival.  Each year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac; in 2012, we are in the Year of the Dragon.

At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children “lucky money” in red envelopes.  Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck.  The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom.  Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.

In China, the New Year is a time of family reunion.  Family members gather at each other’s homes for visits and shared meals, and most significantly a feast on New Year’s Eve.  In the United States, however, many early Chinese immigrants arrived without their families, and found a sense of community through neighborhood associations instead. Today, many Chinese-American neighborhood associations host banquets and other New Year events.

Each of the 15 days has a particular role, and often those taking part in celebrations will abide by the traditional beliefs according to each day.  The first day is often set aside for people to honor the elders within their families, whereas the third day is generally accepted as a bad day to socialize with relatives or friends.  The final day of the Chinese New Year is traditionally marked by a Lantern Festival when people walk through the streets carrying lanterns and light candles outside their homes.  It is tradition to cleanse a house of all ill-fortune and to try to reconcile with others, removing negativity from your life.

The dragon symbolizes power, strength and good luck.  In contrast to European beliefs, where dragons are considered evil creatures, dragons are seen as having auspicious power and viewed as positive.  Often regarded as one of the most important signs in the zodiac, Chinese tradition says those born in Dragon years tend to be brave, innovative and highly driven, regularly making it to the top of their profession.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2090516/Happy-Chinese-New-Year-2012-Millions-welcome-Year-Of-The-Dragon.html#ixzz1l5b8wSZh

February is National Cancer Prevention Month

Cancer Facts

1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.  Know your risks and caution signs.  Early detection is your best protection. Be an active participant in screenings such as breast self-exam, mammography, pelvic and Pap test, colonoscopy, prostate-specific antigen test and digital rectal exam, skin self-exam and dental exam.

Caution Signs of Cancer

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow and spread uncontrollably, threatening normal cells in the process.  The risk of developing cancer increases with age but cancer can occur in people of both sexes and of every age and background.  The best defense against cancer is early detection and treatment. Knowing these caution signs can save your life.

~ Unusual Bleeding or Discharge
~ A Lump or Thickening Anywhere on the Body
~ A Sore That Does Not Heal
~ Persistent Change in Bowel or Bladder Habits
~ Persistent Cough or Hoarseness
~ Change in a Wart or Mole
~ Persistent Indigestion or Difficulty Swallowing

If you have any of these symptoms or notice unusual changes in your body or health, PLEASE see your doctor immediately.  Early Detection Saves Lives
From www.cancerservicesonline.org

Give yourself the best chance for great health by eating “closer to the earth” and reducing the amount of highly processed foods you eat. Include lots of good water and the right supplements and herbs for you.  Get a bit of regular physical activity, and practice increasing your ability to manage the stresses of daily life by setting aside some time for quiet reflection, meditation and/or prayer.  Find something that YOU resonate with and “just do it.”  Believe in yourself!  You are worth it.