While for many of us the new year started on 1 January, if you’re following the Chinese calendar then it’s today that kicks off the new zodiac year. According to the Chinese calendar, 2019 is officially the Year of the Pig.
How do you celebrate the Chinese new year?
The lunar new year festival is the most important festival on the Chinese calendar. Festivities last for two weeks – kicking off on the eve of the new year and finishes with the Lantern Festival 15 days later.
The holidays surrounding the lunar new year festival are all about getting together with family and friends, feasting on good food, and looking forward to a new year filled with prosperity, joy, and good fortune.
Preparations will start at least a week before the new year. There’s a lot of cleaning and stocking up the pantry – you have to get rid of any bad luck from the past year and be ready for the feasting and family time to come.
Red envelopes are one of the most prominent traditions at this time of year. While the envelopes contain cash, the most important part of this tradition is the giving and receiving – demonstrating that you value the relationships of your family and friends. Red envelopes also play an important role in the workplace, between employers and employees.
Welcome in the new year by lighting fireworks at midnight – sending off the old new, scaring off any bad spirits, and welcoming in the new year.
Why does each year have a different animal?
The zodiac is one of China’s ancient traditions, and it’s linked to the creation stories associated with the Jade Emperor – one of the representations of the first god.
It’s a 12-year cycle that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year. The 12-year cycle is derived from the orbital period of the planet Jupiter.
One of the stories that explain why the animals are associated with the zodiac is that the Jade Emperor, having ruled Heaven and Earth justly and wisely for many years, had never had the time to actually visit the Earth personally. He grew curious as to what the creatures looked like. Thus, he asked all the animals to visit him in heaven. The cat, being the most handsome of all animals, asked his friend the Rat to wake him on the day they were to go to Heaven so he wouldn’t oversleep. The Rat, however, was worried that he would seem ugly compared to the cat, so he didn’t wake the cat. Consequently, the cat missed the meeting with the Jade Emperor and was replaced by the Pig. The Jade Emperor was delighted with the animals and so decided to divide the years up amongst them. When the cat learned of what had happened, he was furious with the Rat and that, according to the story, is why cats and Rats are enemies to this day.
The animals in the order of the cycle are:
Year of the Pig
According to the myths, the Pig was the last to arrive when the Jade Emperor called for the great meeting of the animals.
People born in the year of the Pig are believed to strive for aestheticism, beauty, and a more philosophical, and intellectual approach in life. Their calm nature is believed to give them great leadership abilities.
It is assumed that people born in the year of the Pig are artistic, refined, intuitive, intelligent, and well-mannered. They have a calm nature. They seek beauty and a sensitive love. They are caring, unique, self-sacrificing, obliging, sensible, creative, empathetic, tactful, and prudent. They can also be naive, pedantic, insecure, cunning, indecisive, and pessimistic.
Happy New Year! May the year of the Pig bring you good health, prosperity, and joy!