Yes I am a ‘Pig’ in The Year Of The Pig. February 5, 2019 marks the Chinese New Year (also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) and this year it is The Year Of The Pig.
The Year Of The Pig
New Year Celebrations/Spring Festival
Celebrated by almost a quarter of the world, the New Year is the most important holiday in China.
Just to confuse you, there is no set date as it runs according to the lunar calendar. A lunar month is two days shorter than in the solar calendar so to make up for it an extra month is added every few years. Accordingly, the Chinese New Year occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20. As I have said, it falls on February 5 this year though celebrations will last until February 19 when it closes with a traditional lantern festival.
Everything about the celebration has special meaning with special wine, special deserts and a preponderance of the color red. Dumplings are the main food of choice.
Children get new clothes and red envelopes full of ‘lucky money’. Everything is decorated with red, part of an old tradition to scare away monsters. Lion dances are part of the tradition which also includes fireworks. These are used to scare off demons and also to welcome in the New Year.
Fireworks can go on for at least three days and sometimes much longer. It is the largest annual usage of fireworks on the planet.
The tradition includes a long list of things you shouldn’t do, or taboos. For example, showering is not allowed on New Years Day. Before the festival there is a day of cleaning to make room for good luck to come in. But during the festival cleaning is not allowed as you could sweep away the good luck. You can read more about the taboos here (including not visiting the wife’s family which could be a result for some people I know).
The largest celebrations, outside of Asia, are actually held in London. Some 700,000 people celebrate in Chinatown and the surrounding area. A parade passes through the West End and Chinatown.
There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, each one representing a year. They are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The Pig is number 12 in the zodiac, said to be because it turned up last of all the animals. One story is the Pig was late because it overslept which I thought is rather fun.
The zodiac repeats every 12 years so each animal comes around every twelfth year. The origins are said to come from animal worship and evolved into the zodiac and fortune telling.
But it is interesting to read the history of how the zodiac started with 12 ‘earthly branches’ and then the animals were added as mnemonics. There is some interesting science behind it and it is fascinating to see how this part of Asian culture developed and how it is used every day. People consult the zodiac for compatibilities (or incompatibilities) when making important decisions on such things as marriage and careers, for example.
Where’s The Cat???
Important to note (if you are a cat lover like me) that cats didn’t exist in China when the zodiac was developed. I am sure they would have been leader of the pack if they had!
I am a Pig
Based on my birth year I am a pig (猪—zhū). Pigs are supposed to be diligent and compassionate. I had thought that, as a Pig, The Year of The Pig would be good for me. But conversely, the Chinese see your birth year as marking an unlucky 12 months – ooh err! Apparently, you can overcome this bad luck why wearing read underwear all year.
There are lucky numbers for those born in the Year of the Pig (2, 5 and 8) and even lucky flowers (hydrangea and daisy). There are lucky colors and lucky directions too. But there are also unlucky numbers, directions and colors. Including red! Now I am a bit confused given the advice to wear red underwear all year.
But not to worry, according to the horoscope for the year, there are smooth prospects for the coming year for those born in the year of the Pig even though it is a birth sign year. Phew! That saves me money on new underwear.
And in terms of compatibility for relationships, the best are Goats, Tigers and Rabbits. Luckily Barnet Boy is a Tiger.
The two Year of the Pig greeting cards are available to be sent immediately to a US postal address from: https://www.signedcards.com/makers/102 just search for ‘Chinese New Year’ in the search box marked ‘Holiday’.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!