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Saturday, January 25th 2020, The Chinese New Year. The year of the RAT!!!
Why would I be talking about and spending a weekly blog talking about the Chinese New Year? The Chinese culture and Tai Chi will always be linked. You really can’t separate the two. When you better understand the Chinese culture, and their biggest holiday, you will better understand Tai Chi.
Let’s start out with the facts of the new year.
It is a tradition in China to thoroughly clean your home and get rid of any trash on New Years Eve. The purpose being to get rid of any bad luck and make way for good fortune in the new year.
The holiday is based on the lunar calendar, unlike our Gregorian calendar. So the date of the Chinese New Year falls in mid to late January to early to mid February. It will vary from year to year. It starts with the New moon on the first day of the first lunar month and ends on the full moon 15 days later.
Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival.
Chinese New Year is a 15 day celebration. Each day has purpose and tradition. Click here to see what each day stands for.
Red envelopes are given (usually to children) that contain money.
Fireworks are also associated with the Chinese New Year. Every year China holds the largest fireworks display in the world on New Years Eve.
The legend of Chinese New Year eve is based on a mythical beast named Nian (which means year).
The Chinese Zodiac of five elements and 12 animals revolves around the Chinese New Year.
Now for more details...
Legend of Nian
Besides historical records, there are also many stories and legends worth mentioning. The first and most well known is the legend of Nian (Year “Nian” as in New Year –”Xin Nian”): There was a monster in ancient times with a body of a bull and the head of lion. It was a ferocious animal that lived in the mountains and hunted for a living. Towards the end of winter when there was nothing to eat Nian would visit the villages and attack and eat whatever it could causing the villagers to live in terror. Over time the villagers realized that the ferocious Nian was afraid of three things: the color scarlet, fire, and noise.
Eventually, the villagers came together and agreed that when it was time for Nian’s annual visit ,towards the end of winter, they would start a fire in front of every door, hang a scarlet painted board in front of every house, and not go to sleep but rather make noise.
One night, when Nian was spotted coming down the mountain, they started the fires, put up the boards painted with scarlet, and stayed up all night long making noises. The monster came down saw and heard the ruckus, freaked out, and ran into the mountains never to return again. The next morning everyone got up congratulated each other and had a big celebration. The next year they repeated the ritual and it has been passed down generation to generation until today, and thus the custom of Guo Nian (过年) was established, including the traditions of firecrackers (loud noises) and the color red.
I think everyone has been to a Chinese restaurant and read the place mat about all the different zodiac animals. What most people don’t know there is a lot more to your personal characteristics than the sentence or two on a place mat animal of the year you are born on. There are actually three things that make up your Chinese Zodiac.
The animal of the year in which you were born. There are 12 animals in the zodiac.
The animal of the hour in which you were born. The same 12 animals each covering a two hour period.
The element of the year in which you were born. There are five “elements”. (I’m going to cover the elements in more detail in a blog later)
The belief is that the hour in which you are born makes more of an impact than the year in which you were born on your characteristics. Most people (and place mats) don’t focus on this. I believe it is because everyone knows the year in which you are born but most people don’t know the hour which they are born.
Here is the legend of why the animals are in the order they are.
First you can look up what your element and animal is.
Next lets look up what your animals is based on the time you were born.
Now lets look up a description of your animal.
You can also look up your compatibility of your animal to another.
Speaking of compatibility there is a “naughtier” side of the zodiac animals (the Hindu weren’t the only ones that looked at “ways to engage”). The male “quick lighting” fire vs the female “slow to warm” water that will quench the fire. You know what I’m saying……… (if you don’t know what I’m saying or don’t want to know, skip this section).
Here are the sexual animal signs:
Rough and Ready Rooster
Perfectly Perverted Pig
The “Magic Year”
The Chinese Zodiac has a 60 year cycle (12 animals X the 5 elements). So your birth year (in my case Metal Rat) takes 60 years to “cycle” back around. So in the year of your 60th birthday you will be back to your birth year (again in my case the Metal Rat). In the ancient times reaching 60 was quite an accomplishment and was always celebrated. The Chinese believe that in your 60th year you are re-born. Your work life is done and you have raised your kids so your life starts again with no responsibility.
My challenge to you this week is to enjoy another new year! Sweep out the bad luck and spirits of the past year. Make way for incoming good luck and prosperity. Reach out to family and friends, re-connect with people whom you have not seen for awhile. Keep working on doing your 20 in 2020 (20 minutes of health work [10 minutes deep breathing & 10 minutes of Tai Chi] in the year 2020). I’m looking forward to a great year in 2020!!!
Many thanks for all of your support.