Chinese people around the world are preparing for a year with the ox! Forget Pisces or Capricorn, Leo or Sagittarius, we're talking Eastern zodiac here. The Chinese calendar dates back to the time of Emperor Huang Ti, and each year is represented by one of twelve animals. While the western calendar marks January 1 as the day to bring in the New Year, in the Chinese calendar, which takes both lunar and solar into account, the holiday falls about a month or so later. This year, it's January 26.

So goodbye rat, hello ox! Every Chinese New Year is cause for celebration. But this year may hold some good news for families suffering from a bad economy. The ox can symbolize prosperity, but with a lot of hard work, especially since 2009's ox is in an earth cycle. When predicting how the coming year will unfold, soothsayers consider not only the animal sign but also the five elements that rotate through the Chinese astrological system: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. The stubborn ox, paired with the solidity of earth, means that it will be harder than usual to make big changes this year. But after the rollercoaster of 2008, that may not be a bad thing.

We say, there's no use in worrying. Ring in the new year! Open up your doors and windows – it's supposed to let in good luck. Share a whole fish – it symbolizes togetherness and abundance. Consume a chicken – legs, head, and feet should be prominently displayed. Eat uncut noodles to celebrate long life. Tuck a few bills into a red envelope and slip it into your child's pocket for good luck. Or just do as many in the Chinese community do – go out for a big feast. The New Year marks the biggest day of the year in terms of sheer blissful gluttony.

For a quick home dish even kids can make, try this:

Instant Egg Drop Soup

1 small package instant Oriental-style noodles, chicken or veggie flavor
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 green onion,sliced
1/4 tsp roasted sesame oil (optional)

Cook noodles according to package directions. While stirring, add peas and egg to the pot when noodles are 1 minute away from being ready. Remove from heat and stir in green onion and sesame oil. Serves 1 or 2, immediately!