January 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue
| Volume 14, Issue
February 2008 Theme
Chinese New Year
Scholar & Engineer
THEME RELATED STUFF
Brenda, Last Frontier Council
Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the
first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day
of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night
with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. In 2008, New
Year's Day falls on Thursday, February 7.
Legend has it that in ancient times,
Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came,
and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in
each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. In 2008 it will
be the year of the Rat, those born in rat years tend to be leaders, pioneers and
conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and
Lai See is the custom of giving a gift of money
in a special red envelope during the New Year's celebration. In the Chinese
culture red is a lucky color. The combination of the red envelope and money
represent a wish for good luck and good fortune in the coming year as red
represents good luck and money wealth. While the amount of money in the envelope
is usually small (a single, low denomination bill – never coins) it symbolizes a
wish for good fortune. Many believe that good luck will come to both the giver
and the recipient of the Lai See.
Alice, Golden Empire Council
Chinese New Year is celebrated each year in
January or February – the date is based on The Chinese calendar. a combination
solar/lunar calendar, and some complex astronomical calculations, including the
longitude of the sun. Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the
winter solstice (all months begin with a new moon). Parades are held all over
the world to celebrate the beginning of the Chinese New Year. The celebration
lasts for 15 days and ends with a Lantern Festival, with children again parading
with lanterns. There are a lot of customs or superstitions surrounding the New
Year – check some of them out:
Superstitions about the
Clean House -
Before the New Year arrives, the Chinese consider it very important to give the
house a thorough cleaning, sweeping away any bad luck that may have accumulated
over the past year. They also don’t clean for the first few days of the New Year
– to avoid sweeping away their good luck!
Decorate! - Doors and window panes are
also often painted red, considered to be a lucky color. In addition, people like
to hang paper cuts on doors and windows. (Paper cutting is an ancient Chinese
art form dating back to the Han dynasty).
tradition on New Year's Eve is for families to gather together and spend the
evening preparing Chinese Dumplings. They hide a coin in one of the dumplings,
to bring good luck in the coming year to the person who finds it.
Pay Debts and wear new clothes – never
wear white, as it is a color associated with dying. Red is the color of good
luck and new beginnings.
Chinese people believe that evil spirits
dislike loud noises – that’s why firecrackers are set off – houses are even
decorated with plastic firecrackers!
They also buy kumquats, since the name of
the fruit is a play on the word for “Prosperity”
The peach blossom is also considered to
be lucky and the markets are decorated with the delicate blossoms wrapped in
tissue paper that stops them getting damaged....
The word for
Tangerines and oranges sound like luck and wealth, so they are popular. Pomelos,
the large ancestor of the grapefruit signifies abundance, as the Chinese word
for pomelo sounds like the word for "to have."
The word for fish, "Yu," sounds like the
words both for wish and abundance. So on New Year's Eve fish is served at the
end of the evening meal, symbolizing a wish for abundance in the coming year.
For added symbolism, the fish is served whole, with head and tail attached,
symbolizing a good beginning and ending for the coming year.
And what about the sweet, steamed cakes
that are so popular during the Chinese New Year season? Their sweetness
symbolizes a rich, sweet life, while the layers symbolize rising abundance for
the coming year. Finally, the round shape signifies family reunion.
The Legend of
the Quarreling Animals
There is a twelve year cycle to the Chinese
calendar, and an animal to represent each year. According to Chinese legend, the
twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The
gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the
opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would
receive their years according to their finish.
All the twelve animals gathered at the river
bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the
ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back, and won the race.
The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year
of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last. According to the cycle,
2008 will be The Year of the Rat.
According to the Chinese horoscope, people born
in the Year of the Rat are noted for their charm and attraction for the opposite
sex. They work hard to achieve their goals, acquire possessions, and are likely
to be perfectionists. They are basically thrifty with money. Rat people are
easily angered and love to gossip. Their ambitions are big, and they are usually
very successful. They are most compatible with people born in the years of the
Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.
Scouter Jim, Great Salt Lake Council
Umbrella - The umbrella were used
as much a 4,000 years ago in ancient Assyria, China, Egypt, and Greece,
originally to make shade from the sun. The Chinese were probably the first to
waterproof the umbrella for use in the rain; they used wax and lacquer (a type
of paint) to repel the rain.
Abacus - The abacus was first seen
in a sketch book written during the 1300s in China, although there isn’t a
record of who actually invented it. Masters of the abacus can often count as
fast as another person using a computer.
Papermaking - Chinese legend tells
that the new invention of paper was presented to the Emperor in the year 105 AD
by Cai Lun. Archeological evidence, however, shows that paper was in use two
hundred years before then. Either way, the Chinese were significantly
ahead of the rest of the world. The craft of papermaking relied upon an
abundance of bamboo fiber to produce a fine quality paper.
Paper was made in Egypt out of papyrus plant.
Since about the first century AD when the Chinese made paper out of the fibers
from the mulberry plant, folding paper has been practiced. The Chinese
developed some simple forms, some of which survive down to this day. When the
secret of paper was carried to Japan in the sixth century AD by Buddhist monks,
they quickly developed complex designs.
Printing - The Chinese invention
of moveable type, credited to Bi Sheng in the year 1045 AD, did not
significantly impact Chinese society. Three hundred years later in Europe,
Gutenberg's development of moveable type revolutionized the Western world. Why?
The Chinese language uses 3000 to 5000 characters in an average newspaper. The
English language, in comparison, uses 26 characters in an average newspaper.
Clearly, manipulating 5000 characters on a printing press took much longer than
moving 26. Still, the invention of moveable type furthered Chinese technology
and its role in the advancement of human civilization.
Gunpowder - Imagine their enemy's
surprise when the Chinese first demonstrated their newest invention in the
eighth century AD. Chinese scientists discovered that an explosive mixture could
be produced by combining sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate).
The military applications were clear. New weapons were rapidly developed,
including rockets and others that were launched from a bamboo tube. Once again,
the raw materials at hand, like bamboo, contributed ideas for new technologies.
Compass - By the third century AD,
Chinese scientists had studied and learned much about magnetism in nature. For
example, they knew that iron ore, called magnetite, tended to align itself in a
North/South position. Scientists learned to "make magnets" by heating pieces of
ore to red hot temperatures and then cooling the pieces in a North/South
position. The magnet was then placed on a piece of reed and floated in a bowl of
water marked with directional bearings. These first navigational compasses were
widely used on Chinese ships by the eleventh century AD.
Silk - was first made by the
Chinese about 4,000 years ago. Silk thread is made from the cocoon of the
silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), a small moth whose caterpillar eats the
leaves of the mulberry tree. The cocoon is a single, continuous thread about
500 to 1200 yards long – it’s made from a protein from two glands in the
caterpillar’s head. After the caterpillar spins his cocoon, it is dropped into
boiling water and the thread is unwound. Silkworms are also fed to turtles,
lizards, frogs, fish and birds. Some American teachers send away for silkworms
so their class can see the whole process and actually unwind the silk thread.
(It takes about 6 weeks or more, but if you have scouts who really want to
try it, go to
http://www.mediamessage.com/Kayton/Silkworms/whole.htm. There is also a
journal from a class that did the project, which is fun to read, at
Brenda, Last Frontier Council
Did you know…?
Some of the first forms of currency in
China were made of shell, satin, or Jade.
There are 55 official minority
nationalities, and 206 listed languages.
China has approximately a 75% literacy
Only Imperial dragons embroidered on the
robes of the Emperor or his personal attendants could display five claws.
The Chinese women have won medals at the
Olympics for their outstanding ability of weight lifting!
In China, Tiger body parts are sought for
use in traditional Chinese medicine and exotic recipes.
In China, snake is a delicacy. Some
dishes include roast boa and five-step snake, snakeskin with peppers, and snake
lemon liqueur, which is "good for a person with a weak body". Some Chinese even
check into sanitariums for extended snake-diet therapy.
Even though there are French and Italian
eateries popping up in southern China, Barbecued rat and dog are still
favorites. Others include silkworms and black beetles.
The ancient Chinese consider the peach a
symbol of long life and immortality. These "Persian apples" actually had their
beginning in China, but were developed in Persia and went from there to Europe
and then to America with the colonists.
Ladies in the high society in China once
made black dye from dark eggplant skins and used it to stain their teeth to a
black luster, a fashionable cosmetic use.
Chinese is the oldest and the greatest of
the world's literature.
Acupuncture originated in China more than
5000 years ago.
The Great Wall is the only man-made
structure that can be seen from the Space Shuttle and is used by scientists to
Materials found in Baloo's Bugle may be used by Scouters for Scouting activities provided that Baloo's Bugle and the original contributors are cited as the source of the material.