Chinese New Year - welcoming the Year of the Pig
Chinese New Year falls this year on Tuesday the 5th February, with celebrations taking place across China dnd the rest of the world as we move from the Year of the Dog into the Year of the Pig.
In China the new year and associated Spring Festival is the main holiday in the calendar, with festivities already well under way and continuing up until the 19th February, with the conclusion of the Lantern Festival. Millions of workers, including most of the carpenters who produce Shimu's furniture, have already made the journey back to their home towns to spend the holiday with their families.
Celebrations commonly include colourful parades and festivals, along with firecrackers and fireworks set off at midnight to cast away any bad luck and to bring in good luck for the year ahead.
Chinese families across the generations will gather together for a dinner on the eve of New Year. The family elders will present children with red envelopes ('red pockets') containing 'lucky money' - a tradition that started as far back as the Han dynasty and that is thought to bring blessings and good luck. These days modern technology has crept in, with the money often transferred digitally via 'red envolope' apps on smartphones!
Are you a Pig?
According to legend, when the Jade Emperor called for a great meeting of the animals on Earth, the pig arrived last because he got hungry during his journey, stopped to eat a feast and then fell asleep. The pig is therefore the twelfth and last animal in the twelve year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
If you were born in one of the following years then, unless your birthday is in January or early February, you will have been born in the Year of the Pig:
1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007.
In Chinese culture the pig represents good luck, prosperity and honesty. They may be last in the Chinese zodiac but those born under the Year of the Pig have plenty of good qualities. They are believed to be hard working, peace-loving people who are truthful and generous. In work they are energetic and enthusiastic, even in boring jobs. They are also patient, tolerant and understanding, wanting the best for everyone, making them suitable for charity work or teaching. 'Pigs' may not be the life and soul of the party but they are realistic and will get things done.
On the downside, they can be slighly materialistic though not the best with money. They can also be stubborn, self-indulgent and naive, as well as being considered a little lazy.
Lucky things for Pigs
Colours: yellow, grey, brown
Numbers: 2, 5, 8
Colours: blue, green
Numbers: 1, 7, 9
Most compatible with: Tiger, Rabbit, Goat
Least compatible with: Snake, Monkey