Happy Chinese New Year

The Year of the Sheep or Goat will start on 20th February. The Green, Wood Sheep or Goat (the animals are interchangeable in the Chinese zodiac) follows the tumultuous Year of the Horse. The Year of the Sheep promises to be calmer as Sheep symbolise peace and harmony. Sheep also bring creativity and this is a great year for artists and those with creative passions. Even for those who lack these qualities, 2015 should bring a calmer year and any activity tackled with passion and joy is destined to bring success.

Work, for most, will be quiet and uneventful. If last year was the year for the Horse to gallop off, this year is about contemplating and appreciating what has already been accomplished, to think about bringing goodness to others and to calmly look ahead. Tread steady and this year should bring peace and comfort.

I like to imagine those sheep or goats that are outside, standing firm on any terrain, in all weathers, quietly grazing and gently just getting on with things.

Those due to be born in the Year of the Sheep, are thought to be gentle, righteous, sincere, artistic, and elegant. They like to exercise moderation and be cautious in life. They are romantic and will choose partners who will protect them and give them the room to grow. Food, shelter, and clothing are three basic things which remain most important in a Sheep’s life. They are good team workers and often like to remain in the background of an endeavor. Sheep are generous with their time as well as their money. The quiet outer appearance of the Sheep belies his inner determination. When threatened, Sheep can respond passionately and firmly. Sheep have a special fondness for quiet living. They crave love, attention and approval in life.

Sheep have fantastic luck. They usually meet the ones who will assist them and will care deeply for them. Basically survivors, Sheep know how to placate or evade their enemies. Although they look gentle on the surface, they are tough on the inside, always insisting on their own opinions in their minds. They have strong inner resilience and excellent defensive instincts. They are also wanderers by nature and are happy to set off on journeys to meet new people and to see the world. It is often the simple things in life that give them the most pleasure; a wonderful view, a beautifully created object or an inspiring piece of music will help these people feel happy and entranced.

They are artistically talented and have great sense of fashion. They are very romantic, and determined in love. Sheep are good-natured and try not to hurt other’s feelings. They are generous to share what they have, thus often have closed friends and families. Sheep are smart, elegant, and can work very hard to achieve their goals. They can forgive easily and be understanding about others’ faults. Sheep, with their inner calm and serenity, attract few health problems.

Their weakness is that they can be pessimistic sometimes and complain about things. They can be oversensitive and fretful of little problems. If things are not going their way, they are easily discouraged or hypercritical. Sheep sometimes can be too idealistic to be practical.

Sheep can appear to be disorganized. They dislike strict rules and can not take too much criticism. They sometimes feel insecure and require a lot of attention, earning them the term ‘clingy’. They can also be very shy, and not speak up openly about what their thoughts are.

Sheep avoid confrontation and are not born leaders. It is because of these characteristics that being born in the Year of the Sheep is not that highly regarded by some Chinese who prefer the energetic and dynamic characteristics of some of the other signs, like the Dragon, Tiger and Horse.

However, the Sheep is the 8th sign of the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac, 8 is the lucky number for the Chinese, and being born under the 8th sign is auspicious indeed, and who wouldn’t want their child to be kind, forgiving and loyal? To be born in the Year of the Sheep, babies will have to be born from February 19, 2015 to February 7, 2016, the last day of the 2016 lunar year.

In 2015 most Chinese will be off work from Wednesday, February 18 (New Year’s Eve) to Tuesday, February 24 (the 6th day of Chinese New Year).

Chinese New Year is a time for families to be together. Wherever they are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their families.

The New Year’s Eve dinner is called Reunion Dinner, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families – families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.

Traditionally, the Chinese celebrated with firecrackers and dragon dances. This is becoming less popular in urban areas, but still red lanterns hang in parks and every house and building is decorated with red. Like Christmas in the West, people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival. The most common gifts are red envelopes. Red envelopes with money in, are given to children and (retired) seniors.

Certain foods are eaten during the festival because of their symbolic meanings, based on their names or appearance.

Fish is a must for Chinese New Year as the Chinese word for fish (鱼 yú /yoo/) sounds like the word for surplus (余 yú). Eating fish is believed to bring a surplus of money and good luck in the coming year.

Another traditional Chinese New Year food is Chinese dumplings. Because the shape of Chinese dumplings looks like a silver ingot – a kind of  ancient Chinese money, Chinese people believe eating dumplings during the New Year festival will bring more money and wealth for the coming year.

Other New Year food includes spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes and Sweet Rice Balls.

Chinese people believe that, as the Spring Festival is the start of a new year, what you do then will affect your luck in the coming year. There are many taboos for the Spring Festival season. These taboos usually apply up to a month before the festival and continue to the end of the festival (day 15, the Lantern Festival). They are strictly followed in rural areas by the older generations, but the younger generations and people in urban areas may not know them.

  • Some Chinese people believe that they mustn’t do cleaning and wash their hair in the first three days as that will sweep/wash away good luck.
  • A cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family, so the young are placated fastidiously.
  • To ask for a loan is a big “no-no”.
  • Another interesting thing is the red underwear. You will see red underwear sold at supermarkets and street markets. Red is believed to ward off bad luck and misfortune. For the people born in a year of the goat (1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003), red underwear is a must for 2015.
Posted in Eastern Culture