Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Year of the Horse!

It is New Year's Day of the year 4712 in the Chinese calendar. It is the beginning of the Year of the Horse. So happy New Year!

The Chinese calendar is an interesting way of perceiving and reckoning the passage of time. The month is determined by the phases of the moon. Each month begins with a New Moon, the darkest time of the moon's passage. Last night saw a New Moon and so today begins the New Year.

Chinese New Year festivities are not just a one day or one night affair. They start on the first day of the month and last until the fifteenth, when the moon is full and at its brightest. Traditionally, the Chinese people might take weeks to prepare for and celebrate this holiday, and, in some places, they still do.

One of the most interesting things - to me - about the Chinese calendar is the concept of naming each year after an animal and attributing to people born in that year the supposed characteristics of that animal. Those born in one of the Years of the Horse, for example, are supposed to be good with their hands, witty, perceptive, skillful with money, and cheerful.

There are twelve animal years in the Chinese zodiac and, of course, there is a legend behind that.

The legend is that, in ancient times, the Buddha invited all the animals to meet him on the first day of the New Year. Twelve of the animals came and the Buddha honored them by naming a year after each one and stating that those born in each animal's year would share some of the characteristics of that animal's personality.

The zodiac occurs within a regular twelve year cycle, beginning with the Year of the Rat and ending with the Year of the Pig. Here is that cycle along with some of the traits which people born in those years supposedly share.
Animal Personality Traits
  • Rat: quick-witted, smart, charming, and persuasive
  • Ox: patient, kind, stubborn, and conservative
  • Tiger: authoritative, emotional, courageous, and intense
  • Rabbit: popular, compassionate, and sincere
  • Dragon: energetic, fearless, warm-hearted, and charismatic
  • Snake: charming, gregarious, introverted, generous, and smart
  • Horse: energetic, independent, impatient, and enjoy traveling
  • Sheep: mild-mannered, shy, kind, and peace-loving
  • Monkey: fun, energetic, and active
  • Rooster: independent, practical, hard-working, and observant
  • Dog: patient, diligent, generous, faithful, and kind
  • Pig: loving, tolerant, honest, and appreciative of luxury
Looking at my own family, I have two roosters and I, myself, am a monkey.  But my older daughter is a horse, so this is her year. Energetic, independent, impatient, and happy traveler that she is, I can only hope that the year 4712 is an especially good one for her.

And for you, too. Happy Year of the Horse!

  

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