The Year of the Wood Horse: Spring Begins!
Chinese New Year is a fifteen day holiday celebrated throughout Asia and around the world, making it the most significant annual holiday for one-quarter of the world’s population. The New Year, which marks the beginning of Spring in traditional Asian cultures, begins on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice. This year we’re celebrating January 31st – February 14th.
The traditional Chinese calendar incorporates elements of both lunar and solar-based calendar systems and has been in use for three and a half millennia: so the year 2014 is the Chinese year 4712. Throughout East Asia the Gregorian or Western Calendar is used for day-to-day activities, but the Chinese calendar is still used for marking traditional East Asian holidays such as the Chinese New Year , the Duan Wu Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival. Because each month follows one cycle of the moon, this special calendar is used to determine the phases of the moon.
Called “Chinese New Year” here in the West, throughout Asia, it is celebrated as the “Spring Festival” 春節 heralding Spring. In climates more northern than Florida’s, it’s this exact time of year that we see the days begin to lengthen, the sun rise and set a wee bit earlier & later, and the birds have begun chirping to call on Springtime. It’s time to plan our gardens and prepare for new beginnings!
The traditional greeting for the New Year at the Spring Festival is Gōng xǐ fā cái which means “Congratulations & be prosperous!”
2014 is the Year of the Horse, the seventh sign of the Chinese Zodiac. As legend holds, the Jade Emperor invited the Celestial Animals to the temple for a party. The Celestial Animals had to ferry across a river before entering the temple grounds. The first of the animals, the Rat, hitched a ride on the back of the Ox, and once they arrived safely to the other side, the Rat jumped down and was first to enter the temple. Rat was followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. From that day on, they were delegated to guard the 12-year cycle that governs the ebb and flow of life.
2014: Year of the Horse
The Horse symbolizes conviction and activity . The Year of the Horse, the Wooden Horse in fact, is predicted to be a time of change and fierce negotiations. For more predictions from Chinese astrologer types see this article from The Independent.
Making Your Own Celebration
Check out our tips below to help *you* celebrate the new year and the Spring Festival.
As soon as you can, sweep the dust and dirt of the old year from your floors to make way for the New Year. You don’t have to do the whole house; just hold the intention of doing so. Out with the old and in with the new. Sweeping away any bad luck that may have accumulated over the past year is satisfying… and it can’t hurt!
Remember, it’s important not to clean during the first few days of the new year – if you do any sweeping during this time, you can risk sweeping away good luck!
Decorate your doors and windows with red streamers, paint, or pictures. Red is considered to be a lucky color.
You can also hang paper cutouts on doors and windows. (Paper cutting is an ancient Chinese art form dating back to the Han dynasty).
Force the blooming of peach or flowering quince branches, or bowls of fragrant paper-white narcissus. These too are said to bring good fortune and abundance.Flowering plants symbolize rebirth and new growth, and ensure prosperity in the coming year.
What can we do? Fill as many rooms as you can with flowers and blooming plants!
Watch this VIDEO to learn how to force bulbs, click here.
Go out to eat, or order in a traditional New Year’s Day dinner from a Chinese restaurant. Cook and or eat good luck-drawing dishes. Dale, Nam Joti & I heartily recommend you visit Seminole Heights Yummy House — the best authentic Chinese food in the Tampa Bay area!
Chinese New Year foods include oysters, which represent good fortune and success, fish, representing surplus, and lettuce, representing wealth, riches and prosperity, and oranges and long noodles.
And don’t forget the dumplings! In northern China, the main traditional dish for the occasion is dumplings, which symbolize wealth because of their Chinese-tael-like shape.
Send greeting cards to friends with warm and abundant wishes for the Year of the Horse. Use red Hongbao “Lucky Money” envelopes, and include a with a good fortune or greeting to bring abundance in the new year.
Many people around the world are celebrating the Spring Festival. Some far from friends and family. One simple way to join in the celebration is to enjoy eating fruit: the Clementine is often associated with Chinese New Year celebrations. We found this Singaporean ex-pat now living in London writing about how she is creating her own New Year and has created gorgeous clementine macaroons. Look at The Pleasure Monger’s blog. You can even write down your dreams and aspirations your hold for yourself in the upcoming year on a piece of paper, place it in the Hongbao envelope and refer to if as often as possible throughout the year to make their wishes come true.
Best wishes for a prosperous and abundant year! And may you have peace, joy and good health throughout the new year!
Gururas, Nam Joti & Dale