Though the holiday is not distinctly Cambodian and not one of the nearly-30 public holidays in Cambodia, many locals and visitors alike celebrate the Chinese New Year, or Chinese Spring Festival, as many have called it. Over many generations, Chinese and Vietnamese have carried the tradition on while living in the Kingdom of Wonder, and many Khmer celebrate it too. Though the New Year began on the 31st of January, 2014, with the Lunar New Year, it lasts until mid-to-late February.
Many locals treat the holiday like they do Pchum Ben in the fall, and as those who traversed the streets of Phnom Penh this past weekend will recall, the town feels a bit quiet. Streets are less congested, and some stores are closed. Many people take some time off of work to spend time celebrating with family over food and drink, and visiting local pagodas to pay their respects to ancestors, appreciate happiness, and wish for good luck.
Of the three New Year celebrations recognized in Cambodia (Chinese, Cambodian, and the International New Year’s), the Chinese New Year is the most visible. With red and yellow lanterns, signs, and “lion dancers” in all directions in Phnom Penh and towns alike, the chances of you coming across the holiday are high. Keep an ear perked for “Gong Xi Fa Cai,” which means “Happy New Year” in Chinese.
2014 is the Year of the Horse, which deals a lot with personal fortune. Though there may be many difficulties in life, communication is strongly encouraged this year so as not to offend the god of fortune, Taisui. From love to happiness, life will be unstable during this year in the Chinese zodiac. However, through persistence and attention to the fluctuations in one’s life, a person can overcome the turbulence.
On a positive note, so much change during Year of the Horse means that any certainty in life should encourage action. Some suggest that if you feel confident, you should consider pursuing a romance or embarking on an adventure and engaging with the abundance of energy. Whether your confidence in your decisions takes you to watch a romantic sunset fall over a remote temple, or into a prospective agreement through a new business venture, the Year of the Horse will be an exciting year for everyone!
To learn more about Chinese New Year and the Year of the Horse, take a look at some of the following links: