Today is Chinese New Year Day. February 5, 2019, marks the “Year of the Pig.” It’s one of 12 different animals to be represented (which are Chinese Zodiac symbols).
We find this holiday quite interesting. Because each year all sorts of people talk about it – like it’s just another thing. And that’s how we treat it as well. Just observing other cultures (that were around way before us.)
Also fascinating is how, while people talk about it, many forget the “angst” quite a number of Americans have towards the Chinese people. Specifically, the “Made in China” aspect (hate of). Sort of like “looking the other way.” We used to be really mad about the prevalence of stuff made overseas – but now we have a much better understanding of why, and it doesn’t bother us as much as it used to. The “blame” is mostly ours (as a country – i.e., business policy, but that’s a story for another day…)
But history is history – whether you like it or not. Interesting is that this “Year of the Pig,” is an “EARTH PIG.” The other four elements are Wood, Fire, Metal, and Water. The last time it was the “Year of the Earth Pig” was in 1959.
We’re wondering how our love for bacon will be affected for the rest of this cycle!
If you care to read more about what this long-standing tradition is about, read on for more! It’ll just take a minute or two!
About Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, commonly known as Lunar New Year, is a Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in modern China, and is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia. Observances traditionally take place from the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February. In 2019, the first day of the Lunar New Year will be on Tuesday, 5 February, initiating the Year of the Pig.
Chinese New Year is one of the world’s most prominent and celebrated festivals, and is the cause of the largest annual mass human migration in the world. It is a major holiday in Greater China and has strongly influenced the lunar new year celebrations of China’s neighbouring cultures, including the Korean New Year (seol), the Tết of Vietnam, and the Losar of Tibet. It is also celebrated worldwide in region and countries with significant Overseas Chinese populations, these including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Mauritius, as well as many countries in North America and Europe.
Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. The festival was traditionally a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely, and the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Another custom is the decoration of windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets. Popular themes among these paper-cuts and couplets include that of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. For the northern regions of China, dumplings are featured prominently in meals celebrating the festival.
And specifically, the Year of the Pig!
The Year of the Pig
According to the myths, the Pig was the last to arrive when the Jade Emperor called for the great meeting. Other sources said that Buddha called for a great meeting when he was about to leave the Earth. The Pig came in last.
Legend has it that just as the emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and squeal was heard from a little Pig. The term “lazy Pig” is due here as the Pig got hungry during the race, promptly stopped for a feast then fell asleep. After the nap, the Pig continued the race and was named the 12th and last animal of the zodiac cycle.
Other sources say that given his very stout form, he was just too slow a swimmer, and thus he could not do anything against the other animals.
The Pig and the Elements
The natural element of the Pig is Water. Thus, it is commonly associated with emotions and intuitions. Yet, given that along with the elements (called the Celestial stem), the animal zodiac (called the Earthly stem) also follows a cycle, each of the elements affect the characteristic of the same Earthly stem.
However, the Pig is yin, and thus only the negative aspects of the elements can be attached to them, thus only 5 kinds of Pigs are found in the zodiac. They are the following:
乙亥 (yǐhài) – The Wood Pig
丁亥 (dīnghài) – The Fire Pig
己亥 (jǐhài) – The Earth Pig
辛亥 (xīnhài) – The Metal Pig
癸亥 (guǐhài) – The Water Pig