Are you doing business in China and wondering what all the interest is right now around the new year of the rabbit? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that there are good offers on Chinese foods in the supermarket this week? Maybe you’ve heard of Chinese New Year, but do you know what it is and why it’s celebrated now and not in January?
Chinese people around the world are getting ready to welcome their New Year on Thursday February 3rd. For about 15 days Chinese will celebrate, focus on certain practices and reflect on their lives. Anyone doing business in China or working with Chinese counterparts during this time should be aware of the Chinese New Year and how it might impact you.
The Chinese calendar is a lunar one, just like the Western calendar, with the start of each year coinciding with a new cycle of the moon. A full cycle lasts 60 years and is divided into five further cycles, each lasting twelve years. Each year is named after an animal. Much like Western zodiac signs, each animal in the Chinese calendar has particular characteristics that many Chinese believe will influence the lives of those born under its sign.
This year 3 February will see the end of the year of the Tiger and the beginning of the year of the Rabbit. The Rabbit is considered as calm and sophisticated, a kind of classy peacemaker who likes artistic ventures as well as the tranquillity of home. Those who are born in the Year of the Rabbit are often described as strong, relaxed and friendly as well as compassionate and creative. In terms of careers, Rabbits are believed to make good philosophers, politicians or doctors.
Knowing what year it is in the zodiac calendar and what sign you are can be a nice way to start a conversation and build a relationship when doing business in China. If you’re not sure what Chinese zodiac sign you are, take a look at the following table:
Someone with a Western and perhaps more scientific or rational viewpoint may be reluctant to consider such ideas as anything more than superstition. As China is home to an ever growing and modernising middle class, it is becoming increasingly difficult to measure the influence of such old traditional ideas on Chinese society. But while China’s rise is undoubtedly a modern phenomenon, Chinese society remains rich with trends and traditions that have roots going back millennia.
Understanding the intricacies of such a reality requires a clear understanding of how traditional values influence modern day Chinese behaviours, both in business and in everyday life. Anyone doing business in China should take a cultural awareness training course to develop the required understanding, skills and strategies to effectively navigate the complexities of Chinese culture. Showing an appreciation for and understanding of traditions like Chinese New Year will go a long way towards building effective and long-term relationships when doing business in New Year.
In the meantime, don’t hesitate to send a friendly greeting to your Chinese counterparts this Thursday. Or as in the traditional Chinese custom on New Year, you could give them a small gift wrapped in red paper or in a traditional Chinese red envelope.
May the year of the rabbit bring you much success and happiness!
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011