Why Settle for One New Year When You Can Have Two?
The Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is based on the cycles of the moon, adjusted to keep it in sync with the solar calendar. The creation of this lunisolar calendar dates back to the earliest dynasties in Chinese history, but it has been adopted by cultures across Asia. The Lunar New Year is a pan-Asian festival. For millions of people, it is the most important holiday of the year.
Chinese New Year is my favorite holiday of the year. Here’s a few reasons why.
Celebrate the New Year Twice
The Gregorian (Western solar) New Year is a fine one-day holiday. But why not celebrate a second time, and let it go on for longer? Chinese New Year goes on for at least three days, often a week. In some parts of rural China, people take off the entire month.
Two New Years Gives You Get-Ready Time
Chinese New Year falls between Jan 20 and Feb 21 on the Gregorian calendar. The three- to six-week period between the two New Years is my personal “get-ready” time. Gregorian New Year falls in the depth of Winter (the Water Element). The Water Element has the power of clarity, so Winter is a good time to get clear about where your life is headed in the next year. I use this time to figure out the steps I need to take.
By the time Chinese New Year comes around, the first breath of Spring (the Wood Element) is in the air. Wood Element governs planning and decision-making. By Chinese New Year, I am ready to get started with my plans and move ahead.
Chinese New Year is a Good Time to Clean House – Physically and Energetically
It’s an ancient Chinese tradition to clean the house from top to bottom in the days before New Year. De-cluttering and shedding the old is excellent “feng shui.” Feng shui is the traditional Chinese art of balancing energy flow within and around the home. It’s like an acupuncture treatment for your home. Cast off what no longer serves you, and eliminate any toxins and “bad luck” that may have entered your home throughout the past year.
Chinese New Year is Time to Start Something
A counterpart of cleaning house and shedding the old is to bring in the new. It’s traditional to freshen up, buy new clothes, decorate the house. Red, of course, is the lucky color.
Chinese New Year is a Good Excuse to Eat Great Food
Chinese New Year is called “Spring Festival.” Spring Festival is more like Thanksgiving than it is like Christmas. It’s a time to celebrate and share abundance. New Years Eve, especially, is time to enjoy a big dinner with family and friends.
“Spring Festival” Celebrates the Seasons
The lunar calendar celebrates our connection to the cycles of the natural world and the Five Elements. The two most important holidays in Asia are Spring Festival (the New Year) and mid-Autumn Festival (celebrated at the time of the harvest moon). In some climates, it may still look like Winter when Spring Festival arrives, but we know that Spring and the Wood Element are just around the corner.
Year of the Rooster? Year of the Hen?
In fact, the Chinese Zodiac is gender-neutral! “Year of the Rooster” is a bit of Western male-chauvinism that is does not exist in the original language. Perhaps some Chinese-English translator felt “Year of the Chicken” or “Year of the Hen” sounds undignified. Hey, Chickens, is this worth tweeting about?
The Zodiac Is Based Upon the Five Elements
Most Westerners have heard that the Chinese Zodiac is based on a yearly cycle of twelve animals – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog, pig. Did you know that the Zodiac also incorporates the Five Elements? Each year is associated with both an animal and an Element. For example, this year (beginning January 28, 2017) is the year of the Fire Chicken.
In the yearly cycle, the animal changes every year, and the Element changes every two years. It takes 60 years to complete a cycle of the twelve animals and Five Elements together. For this reason, reaching the age of 60 is like being “born again.” It’s a special time, comparable to the “second Saturn return” in Western astrology.
In the Chinese Zodiac, not only the year is associated with an animal and an Element. Months, days and hours also have their associated animals and Elements. Chinese astrology and fortune-telling is based on these intricate relationships, not simply on the yearly cycle.
Are You a Fire Chicken? Wear Red Underwear!
Let’s clear up a common misconception: if you are born in the Year of the Chicken, this is not your lucky year. In fact, you are most vulnerable in the year associated with the animal of your birth year. (In other words, ages 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, etc. are vulnerable.) A completion of the 12-year animal cycle is like being born again. Like a baby, you are completely defenseless. So, you have to take special care. This is all the more true when you reach the age of 60, and both the element cycle and the animal cycle are complete. If you were born under Fire Chicken, we are back to Fire Chicken again.
What is the solution? Wear something red every single day for a year. Red is the color of good luck. A traditional solution is to simply wear a red cord under the clothing. Enterprising modern Chinese have come up with a better idea: red underwear. With a little online browsing, you’ll find gift packs of red underwear with gold calligraphy for added good fortune. The perfect gift for your chicken friends!
One last precaution: the underwear has to be new. So please don’t pass it on to your “Year of the Dog” friends when next year comes around!