By: Judie Mackie
January 26 marked the Chinese New Year for 2009. This celebration lasts about 15 days and some in China will take weeks of holidays to enjoy feasting with family and friends. The Chinese calendar has a 12 year cycle and each of those years is named for an animal. 2009 is the year of the Ox. The animal ruling over a year is believed to influence the traits of those born in that year.
Legend and tradition say that Buddha called for all the animals to come bid him farewell before he departed the earth. The twelve animals that showed up were the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig, in that order. Buddha showed his appreciation by naming each year after the animals and in the order they arrived.
According to the Web site 123 Chinese New Year, people born in the Year of the Ox will have leadership and organizational skills. They are strong and responsible, but can be stubborn, narrow minded and have low public relations skills. In keeping with the 12 year cycle, those born in the year of the Ox would include those born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, and not again until 2021.
Feasting, fireworks, family and friends mark this exciting time for the Chinese who will traditionally wear red for the occasion. The foods chosen for feasts have symbolic meaning such as oranges for wealth and good fortune and eggs for fertility.
Perhaps one of the largest US celebrations of the Chinese New Year is the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year parade and Festival held on Saturday, February 7th at 5:15 p.m., but the festivities run from January 24th until February 15, 2009. San Francisco plays host to such exciting events as the Miss Chinatown Pageants and the Flower Market Fair with plenty of oranges and tangerines, the symbols for abundant happiness, and live blooming plants to honor rebirth and new growth. Entertainment includes lion dancing, Chinese opera, martial arts demonstration, a petting zoo for the children, basketball events and much, much more.
I think next year I may plan a vacation to San Francisco to join in all of the festivities, until then, Kung Hei Fat Choi! (Happy New Year!).