Happy Chinese New Year of the Dog!
Xīn Nián Kuài Lè 新年快乐! Or Happy New Year! On February 16th, we said goodbye to the Chinese Year of the Rooster and hello to the Year of Dog.
In China, the Lunar New Year – which falls at the January-February new moon – is a big deal.
I remember Chinese New Year when I lived in Beijing as a hectic time of even more activity, noise and colour. The whole population was on the move across this vast country, as people tried to return home. The predominant colour was red – of clothes and papercuts and banners and lanterns and ‘hongbao’ money envelopes – to invite in good fortune, prosperity and vitality in the coming year. Firecrackers and fireworks went off for days all over the city to scare off evil spirits – so the louder the better!
At this transitional time in the annual cycle, Chinese people gather with their family and friendsto see out the old and welcome the new. On New Year’s Eve, they clean the house – sweeping out bad luck – and enjoy a ‘jiaozi’ Chinese dumpling feast together, symbolising good luck and prosperity. Other traditions designed to ensure a favourable new cycle include offering ‘hongbao’ envelopes and gifts like sweets and alcohol to friends and relatives and visiting temples and Temple Fairs around the city to honour deities and ancestors.
After 10 years in China, I’ve been back in Europe for nearly 20 years. I don’t follow Chinese New Year rituals, but I do celebrate each phase of death and rebirth with my constant awareness of the waxing and waning of the Moon as she moves through monthly, seasonal and annual cycles.
I have felt the energy of rebirth growing in recent weeks as we’ve approached the Lunar New Year (which is also known as Spring Festival, but, for me, really heralds the actual arrival of Spring at the Equinox in March). There has been a deep rumbling energy under the Earth as the natural world shakes off this year’s slumber and prepares to burst forth again.
And personally I’ve felt a growing readiness and desire to emerge from a hibernation that I did fully realise that I was in – to post more here, to be more sociable and to push forward with projects whose ideas have been incubating, but for which I did not quite have the energy to take concrete steps for a few months.
The gorgeous weather in the UK over Chinese New Year boosted this vibrant energy in readiness for Spring’s full re-emergence. With the sun shining and the birds singing, I felt the sap rising and found myself saying a big ‘Yes’ to life, full of hope for this coming Year of the Dog.
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