Chinese New Year started on Feb 7 this year (normally celebrated for 15-days), and people from all over the world, not just Chinese, are celebrating the festival…

China Jiangxi residents playing extreme firecrackers during Chinese New Year
Villagers in Tianxin Village, Jiangxi Province, China dressed up in full gear to light the firecrackers

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Chinese workers have made a huge drum, decorated with 480 lanterns in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China. The drum measures 6 metres in length and 4.8 metres in diameter, with Chinese word rat (鼠) embedded at the surface on both sides of the drum to celebrate the coming new year.

Chinese calendar is represented with 12 zodiac animals for every 12-year cycle in specific sequence – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Next year will be the year of rat (begins on Feb 7 on Chinese New Year to be precise).

Giant lantern drum in Dalian, China Giant lantern drum in Dalian, China
Workers working on the drum in early December (Image courtesy of Xinhuanet)

In Chinese astrology, the 12 zodiac animals represent different character and luck for a person depending on his/her birth date and time. The months and hours of Chinese calendar are also categorized by the same group of animals in particular orders, but some formal terms would normally be used instead of the zodiac animals when referring to months or hours.

CuJu (蹴鞠; literally means kick-ball) is an ancient Chinese sport similar to today’s football (soccer). The first recorded document about the game dated back 2300 years ago during the Warring States Period (256 BC-221 BC) in the Kingdom of Qi (齐国; now Shangdong Province).

CuJu
People playing CuJu in a recent cultural
exhibition in Xuzhou, China

The sport gone hiatus for a few decades during Qing Dynasty (221 BC–206 BC), and became popular during Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). The first emperor of Han was said to be a fan of CuJu, hence led to the development of the game.

The CuJu game during the Han Dynasty was similar to modern day’s football game. It was a physical (and skills) battle between 2 teams of 12 players (11 in modern days) to put the ball inside the goal post on the opponents end without using their hands.

The game took a massive change in Tang Dynasty (618–907). First, there was a huge breakthrough in the Ju (the ball)… the ball was made of animals’ bladder and was filled with air compared with stuffed-and-stitch hair and cloth in the old days.

The new ball was much lighter and bouncy, thus the rules of the game changed dramatically. Instead of having the goal post on the floor, the goal mouth was set hanging on air at the middle of the field. The players competed against each other to put the ball through the goal without the ball dropping on the floor… with no physical contact involved.

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Some Chinese chess pieces made of pressed Pu’er tea leaves are shown at a tea shop in Suzhou, eastern China’s Jiangsu province on Tuesday (Oct 23)…

Chinese chess made by Pu-erh tea
Chinese ‘tea’ chess (Image courtesy of Crienglish)

Pu’er (or Pu-erh) tea has been a popular drink in China for over thousand of years. Drinking Pu’er tea is purported to aid in digestion, reduce blood cholesterol and lipid levels. It is also widely believed in Chinese cultures that tea could counteract the unpleasant effects of heavy alcohol consumption.

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