By Chris Hogg
BBC, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is preparing to celebrate the lunar new year and the start of the Year of the Rooster.
Hong Kong is worrying the rooster may bring back bird flu
Geomancers and feng shui masters are much in demand to predict the economic, political and personal fortunes of the year ahead.
The Chinese belief in fate and fortune telling is deep rooted.
It has been practised for thousands of years and in modern-day Hong Kong, it is still a serious business.
A local bank, the CLSA, conducts an annual feng shui economic survey.
In the Year of the Rooster, it says gold is always predominant and it predicts good news for the gold market.
LUNAR NEW YEAR
Dates from 2600 BC
A complete cycle takes 60 years, divided into 12 year elements
Each of these 12 years is named after an animal
The year you were born is said to influence your personality
Rooster years can often bring bad luck
Past Rooster years: 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993
But gold also represents lungs and intestines. A local feng shui master is warning that problems with the respiratory tract and the intestines will dominate the first three lunar months, until early May, and will peak in the period from August to November.
In Hong Kong people are already nervous about a possible return of Sars and fear the rooster - the bird that's supposed to bring good fortune - may this year bring bird flu instead.
Others point out that rooster years have always been bloody - in 1909 Japan invaded Korea, beginning a 36-year occupation; in 1933 Hitler came to power; in 1945 the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan.
Some are predicting a conflict of some kind between China and one of its eastern neighbours before the Year of the Rooster is over.
The rooster, seen as a blunt but hard-working bird, will bring better times for business, say the soothsayers, but a bumpy ride for politicians in the months to come.
The rooster is the 10th sign of the lunar calendar, which associates each year with one of 12 animals.
The Chinese believe the characteristics of each dictate what will happen over the next 12 months.
What are you doing to celebrate the lunar new year? What do you think the Year of the Rooster will hold?
Tell us your experiences using the form below. Or send us your pictures of the celebrations, to firstname.lastname@example.org, and write Lunar New Year in the subject field.
Here in San Francisco, Chinese New Year is a big event, and there's plenty to watch and do. Stockton Street, Chinatown's main thoroughfare is even more crowded than usual with people shopping for the holiday and you can see hundreds of people buying cherry blossoms, red gladiolas, New Year's cakes, and huge amounts of food. It's an exciting place to be right now. Happy New Year everyone!
Eric Burkett, San Francisco, California
I live in residence at a small university where there are only 6 Chinese people in first year. We are all getting together and ordering food from the local Chinese restaurant and enjoying the evening together.
Jessica, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
I'll be celebrating my first Chinese New Year on the Island of Langkawi off the West Coast of Eastern Malaysia with a mix of Tamil, Indonesian and Korean friends.The fireworks in Kuala Lumpur are deafening and plural; they've been going on since 10 am yesterday morning, and show no signs of letting up at nearly 1 am.
Jon Gordon, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Being born in the year of the monkey, I shall bid farewell to the monkey with much reluctance as I had a lot going for me this past year. Other than that, I'm not into celebrating the Lunar New Year per se as it is all about how much money one expects to receive from visiting every known relative. So, woe is the giver if they give out, for example, $6 in the red packet, instead of the expected $10. They would be branded as tightwad.
Besides, I'll definitely avoid the vexing older relatives this year again who would ask me when I'd be getting married. Or, why I choose to remain single. Every year, mind. They simply cannot grasp the fact that I have a choice to live my life on my own terms!
I suspect that what astrologers and the superstitious fear most is change. As education and prosperity increase in China, more and more people will start realizing that this stuff is nothing more than quaint and outmoded practises to account for what was then unknown; a bit of harmless fun. I don't think this year will be the year of the rationalist, but I think it is coming and it is one of the most feared animals of all, especially by those making money of the other ones.
Tim Stone, UK
I'm hoping for a booster as a Rooster this year. Past years of Rooster have been nothing less that disastrous on the face of it, but knowing that crisis and opportunity are intricately entwined fibres of the same cloth helps. I'm just hoping for a less painful run of things this time round.
Ian Jack, London, England
Here in Lubbock, Texas, Chinese Student Association cooperating with Texas Tech University celebrated the New Year on the 5th. They served Chinese food, showed some Chinese traditional music, and played Riddle game. The Riddle game was really fun. What's more, I got to see a lot of pretty Chinese girls that I rarely saw before in this town. They all showed up there at the celebration place.
My Chinese friends invite me to their potluck party to celebrate the New Year. I am excited about that. What we are going to do is eat Chinese food, play cards, and watch a Chinese movie. One of my Chinese friends who just started her graduate study in this university told me that she cried and she made a lot of phone calls to her friends and family members back in China. So celebrating New Year over here would help them to reduce homesickness.
My animal year is Rooster. And I was told that there is bad luck happening to me this year. However, they told me that in order to avoid bad luck, I should wear something that has magic in it. I am kind of scare sometime, but I will look at all the good luck that I will get during this year.
Sothy Eng, Lubbock, Texas
It doesn't matter how many people have been doing it for how long: astrology is dangerous superstitious nonsense that robs people of control of their own lives. You're much likelier to have a good year if you take responsibility for your own decisions instead of surrendering to non-existent external forces. I'd like to wish everyone a Happy & Rational New Year!
Larry, Leeds, UK
Rooster years can be quite frustrating, with much effort put in for little gain. Also, there could be a continuation or culmination of the conflicts that started in Year of Monkey. But it is more likely that people will stand still rather than be forced backwards. We will be celebrating in London Chinatown on Sunday with firecrackers and Lion Dance.
Anya, London, UK
It is tough not being able to celebrate Lunar New Year with my family. Homesickness crept into me. Fortunately my husband and friends are very supportive towards me during this period. So, I am going to decorate my house, play new year songs and call my family to wish them a prosperous new year.
Christina S, London, UK
I will be celebrating with my family eating food, and I think that this New Year will bring us whatever we make it. I depends on us people of the world make the changes that we need
Han-Rui Chiew, Istanbul, Turkey
Being a rabbit, the rooster is the exact opposite on my chart. Therefore, according to the books on the Chinese animals etc., I'm in for a hard year that will be difficult and the rooster will try and make life awful for me! So I'm bracing myself for the worst!
Charles, Shrewsbury, England
Is this as exact a science as that practised by Russell Grant? Wake up people, it's 2005. There's no need to bark at the moon any more.
Richard, Crewe UK
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