From the Horse’s mouth: Do's and Taboos for the Year of the Pig
I’ve noticed that I’ve had many hits from China and I thought it was only polite to wish them all a Happy New Year! (If you are from China, you are invited to comment! Xie Xie)
Recently, I hosted a young Chinese woman who had just completed her Master’s degree and started a job at a very famous non-profit. She stayed with me until her husband completed his PhD and could join her. She ended up renting a one-bedroom apartment in my building, but her husband eventually took a job in Hong Kong and she will be leaving soon to join him. I shall miss her.
It was one of the happiest times as she was a very charming, congenial, and an upbeat roommate. Her command of English was astounding! We spent a lot of time watching Asian movies (I didn’t know Netflix had so many!) and cooking. While I was brought up with Cantonese food in authentic Chinese restaurants, I had never had homemade Chinese food. Of course, I have since come to appreciate food from all their provinces. She taught me how to make dumplings and I taught her how to make lasagna!
Growing up in Queens, New York, Chinese New Year was a time for us to go to an authentic dim sum restaurant in Chinatown and then watch a long, covered, human ‘conga-line’ with a large dragonhead held up front, parading through the narrow streets. One learned to be careful where one stepped since firecrackers were everywhere!
The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.
New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors.
The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.
The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year's Eve with a dinner arranged for them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with the living, celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community. The communal feast called "surrounding the stove" or weilu. It symbolizes family unity and honors the past and present generations.
Everyone should refrain from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. Negative terms and the word "four" (Ssu), which sounds like the word for death, are not to be uttered. Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo. References to the past year are also avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.
If you cry on New Year's day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.
The first person one meets and the first words heard are significant as to what the fortunes would be for the entire year. It is a lucky sign to see or hear songbirds or red-colored birds or swallows.
It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.
While many Chinese people today may not believe in these do's and don'ts, these traditions and customs are still practiced. These traditions and customs are kept because most families realize that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.
It's time to go to your nearest chinese restaurant or district hand join in the celebration!
A Pig with no one around to appreciate its giving nature is a sad sight. Pigs are so magnanimous they can appear almost saintly; this can lead some less-than-well-intentioned souls to stomp all over this Sign, and the bad news is, the Pig will take the blows! Pigs make great companions in part because of their refusal to see the more negative or base qualities in a partner, but that rose-colored view can lead to this Sign's allowing itself to be taken advantage of. Contrary to their seemingly benign dispositions, however, Pigs can be quite venomous in response to being crossed by a lover, friend or business partner.
Pigs are highly intelligent creatures, forever studying, playing and probing in their quest for greater knowledge. They can be misinterpreted as being lazy, however, due to their love of reveling in the good stuff; this Sign could happily spend hours on end making love, napping, taking a long bubble bath or dallying over an incredible spread of rich foods. Pigs tend to make wonderful life partners due to their hearts of gold and their love of family. Even so, Pigs can be rather exclusive, choosing to spend time with those who will appreciate them most and ignore the rest of the populace. Pigs would do well to realize that there's more to life than being needed. When they open up their world to a diverse group of people, they will truly bloom.
The most compatible match for a Pig is the Rabbit or the Sheep.