In my quest for Chinese New Year traditions unknown to me, I happened upon this curious one:
It’s believed that during your zodiac animal year, you are prone to catching the attention of demons (bear with me)! But, fear not, the way to protect yourself from this poor luck is … by wearing red underwear! Of course it is! In case you were wondering, it’s necessary to do this every day until the next lunar new year! February 1st 2022 welcomes the year of the (water) Tiger. Tigers are considered the king of all beasts and people born in Tiger years are thought to be competitive and ambitious with lots of energy and enthusiasm, but can also be a little thoughtless and heavy-handed.
Previous Tiger years are 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, etc. So, all you people born in the year of the Tiger … we know what you’re wearing! Easy, tiger!
(We very nearly didn’t post a Chinese New Year card this year – life, work, and all that! But, at the last minute, I realised this year of the Tiger would complete a full 12-year cycle from the printed Rabbit new year card I sent out all those years ago, so it seemed a shame to miss it. So this is a tiger tribute to that Rabbit card sent in 2011.)
Kung Hei Fat Choi! Wishing you a happy, healthy and fearless year ahead.
12th February 2021 sees the start of the Chinese New Year of the Ox. People born in the year of the Ox are thought to be strong, healthy, hard-working and stubborn. If you were born in 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, you are an Ox!
Ruminating on cows …
In English we say cow and beef, subtly differentiating the meat from the animal it’s derived from. But Cantonese is much more literal, it’s simply cow meat or pig meat, etc. Call it as it is, why beat around the bush? And to be vegetarian translates as to eat fibre or pulp. Very appetising!
Actually, vegetarianism isn’t a word usually associated with Chinese culture. But beyond tofu, a world of mock meat lined the shelves of Chinese supermarkets way before most people even knew it was possible to fashion meat from soya and gluten. Aside from tins of curious fake smoked oysters, you can find vegetarian duck or chicken made from soya, and sesame prawn toasts made of gluten. (It’s better than it sounds, honest!) Chinese New Year celebrations span 15 days, with different customs allocated to each day. The large family reunion dinner, with its symbolic foods, usually takes place on New Years Eve. But a lesser known custom is that on New Year’s Day we should only eat vegetarian food. (It makes complete sense, when you think about it, after a gut-busting night of feasting.)
Here’s a random, veg-related, language morsel for you to chew on! The Cantonese word for avocado is ngau-jau-lei. Translated, it means butter pear. Very descriptive! … and the word for butter (ngau-jau) literally means cow oil! That’s something to think about next Veganuary.
Until then, wishing you good health and happiness above all else this year. Stay well and stay strong in the year of the Ox. Kung Hei Fat Choi
You’re never more than 6 feet away from a rat in London! Apparently, that’s not actually true, but it’s sensational enough to be memorable. Rats have a poor reputation but are quite remarkable creatures, having excellent navigational skills and the ability to memorise complicated routes (unlike myself!) Their swimming skills are particularly impressive. These rodents can swim for half a mile across open water and hold their breath for 3 minutes whilst squeezing themselves through narrow pipes! Thus, they can thrive in the sewer systems of our cities.
January 25th 2020 welcomes the Chinese New Year of the (metal) Rat. The Rat is the first of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, so here we begin a new cycle. People born in the year of the Rat are thought to be quick-thinking, optimistic, energetic, creative, thrifty and successful, but content with a quiet life!
2020 also has a ‘yun’ (leap) month. (I told you about those in a previous post – they happen every few years in the Chinese calendar.) So, you’ll be pleased to know, you’ll get a second chance at April this year, just in case you make a mess of it the first time around! If you were born in 2008, 1996, 1984, 1948, etc., you are a Rat. This is your year, so get out there and pursue those pipe dreams – may they lead to exciting and fragrant destinations! Wishing you a happy and successful year of the Rat!