Chinese New Year – also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival – is celebrated in much of Southeast Asia. It marks the beginning of the new lunar cycle and falls between the December solstice (the shortest day of the year) and the March equinox (when night and day are equal length). The occasion has been celebrated for at least 4000 years and remains the most important holiday in Chinese culture.
Ancient Buddhist Beliefs
Chinese New Year is the first day of the first month of the traditional Chinese calendar. Each year is assigned to one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. This tradition stems from ancient Buddhist beliefs which tell us that Buddha promised gifts to any animal that paid him homage. Only 12 animals, (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig) paid homage to Buddha so each was rewarded with a year in the Chinese calendar. People born during a certain year are said to inherit the characteristics of that animal.
Chinese New Year 2015
2015 is the year of the yang which can mean either sheep (miányáng) or goat (shānyáng) but both interpretations are correct and will vary from culture to culture. In English we often translate yang to mean ram.
Similar to Western culture, the yang (goat, ram, sheep) is seen as resistant to change but is also described by the Chinese Lunar calendar as peace-loving, kind, popular, helpful and trusting. People born in the year of the yang are considered intelligent, gentle and compassionate however they may also be shy, pessimistic, moody, and puzzled by life.
Some notable ‘yangs’ are Pierre Trudeau, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Cao Cao (King of Wei in China’s Three Kingdoms Period), Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty and Empress Dowager Cixi
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
So whether it’s a long standing family tradition or your first time, the Current would like to say: Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Cantonese) Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Mandarin).
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