The Year of the Goat (or Sheep or Ram) begins February 19, 2015.
This impressive figure is a Chinese door god posted especially during the Lunar New Year, to avoid bad luck and as a prayer for luck and peace. This single individual facing forward is likely designed for a single inside door. The door god decorations typically come in pairs, with the gods facing one another. It is thought bad luck may come if the figures are mounted back-to-back.
Preparing for Chinese New Year in the Philippines a friend and I went to a predominately Chinese section of Manila and purchased this particular door god. At that time (1980) it was estimated that about 600,000 Chinese lived among the 13,000,000 citizens of Metro Manila. Seen as shrewd business persons, sometimes resented and still valued, the first Chinese were relegated to operating their businesses outside the original walled city of Manila.
Goat, Sheep or Ram – this New Year the animal is a ruminate which can be translated into any of these critters. The date for Chinese/Lunar New Year is based on a solar/lunar calendar which legend says was created by Emperor Huangdi and began in the calendar year 2637; the holiday is celebrated by many Asian communities. This is the 4712th Chinese year. The holiday reflects an ancient myth about villagers setting out red lanterns and food to scare away Nian, a beast that otherwise would terrify children and ruin crops.
Celebrations begin New Year’s Eve and the festivities often continue a full week. Lion dances, drumming, food, and flowers will be included in many celebrations. Millions of people travel long distances to attend family reunions. Homes are decorated with intricate and colorful paper cutouts, as seen in the New Year’s Card above (http://www.zazzle.com/2015). Children are usually given red envelopes with ‘lucky money’.
Appropriate gifts include: teas, fruits, home supplies (alcohol, tobacco if he family uses them). (http://www.chinahighlights.com) And, it’s very important to know the gifts not to give: sharp objects (signifying cutting off your relationship), anything signifying a funeral or death (such as flowers or handkerchiefs), anything black or white (funeral colors), clocks (running out of time), mirrors (believed to attract malicious ghosts), or umbrellas (the Chinese word sounds like ‘breaking up’ and could signify an end to your relationship).
Long noodles signify long life and the family staying together and are often included in meals during Lunar New Year’s celebrations. We can thank Marco Polo who discovered the noodles in China in 1295, took them to Italy and named them pasta. Be sure to wear RED! This time of year many Chinese stores feature red underwear for men embroidered, this year with a sheep, goat or ram. For an excellent overview of the the Chinese Horoscope and the elements of the stem-branch system see: http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2015ChineseHoroscope.htm
I’ve decided I will usis the Lunar New Year to re-make my 2015 New Year’s Day resolutions: First and Second: exercising on my much disliked rowing machine while I watch TED Talks once or twice a day, every day. Third: posting a Cultural Adventure at least twice a month.