Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lunar New Year 2015

A small debate is brewing over which zodiac animal is the correct one – for this year’s Lunar New Year which starts tomorrow. Is it goat or is it sheep?
Chinese folklorists dismiss the fixation on animals as missing the point. Traditional astrology in China attaches different animal signs to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years.
The symbol for the new year starting on February 19 is the "yang", which can refer to any member of the caprinae subfamily – or even beyond – depending on what additional Chinese character it is paired up with.
For example, a goat is a "mountain yang", a sheep is a "soft yang" and a Mongolian gazelle is a "yellow yang". In fact, goats and sheep appear in Chinese new year paintings, paper-cuts and other festive decorations.
Folklorists say it does not matter which one is used since the zodiac sign was chosen for the Chinese character's auspicious connotation rather than the specific animal – at least in the beginning. "This 'yang' is fictional. It does not refer to any specific kind (of sheep or goat)," Zhao Shu, a researcher with the Beijing Research Institute of Culture and History said.
"Yang" is a component of the written Chinese character "xiang", which means auspiciousness, and the two were interchangeable in ancient Chinese, experts say. It is also a part of the character "shan", which counts kindness and benevolence as among its meanings.
"Therefore 'yang' is a symbol of blessing and fortune and represents good things," said Yin Hubin, an ethnology researcher with the China Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank.
Anyway, this zodiac animal plays a positive role in Chinese folklore, experts say. A fable that can be traced back to more than 1,500 years ago depicts five goats carrying crops in their mouth to save people suffering from years of drought in Guangzhou – today the capital of Guangdong province and dubbed the City of Goats, and according to the story, it has enjoyed timely wind and rain ever since.
Whatever the case, Kong Hee Fatt Choy, everybody! [A Hokkien greeting which means Wishing You to Be Prosperous in the Coming Year].


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