The Suitcase Lady


February 20, 2018, 8:41 pm

If you would like to start the New Year over again, now is your chance. Starting last Friday and continuing for two weeks, Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival is being celebrated.

The first day of the lunar calendar occurs on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The festivities conclude two weeks later with the Lantern Festival.

The ancient lunar calendar has one huge advantage over our much younger solar one. No paper calendar is needed. The “calendar” resides in the sky: simply look up at night and follow the waxing and waning of the moon.

When a lunar calendar is used, a leap month must be added every 30 lunar months. The leap month may come at any time during the year except the 11th, 12th or 1st month. If this adjustment isn’t made, the seasonal cycles would go out of harmony.

The numerous Chinese New Year’s traditions are all ways of inviting in good luck and prosperity. And who doesn’t want good luck and a fresh start? My German American grandmother certainly understood this universal desire and always ate herring at midnight on January first to assure a year of good luck.

The Chinese simply have scores of ways to invoke the luck, and many traditions involve eating foods that look or sound like something lucky. For example, in Cantonese, the word for “Orange” and “gold” have the same pronunciation. Therefore, everyone eats oranges (in pairs or even numbers) to get rich.

We celebrated the arrival of Chinese New Year last Friday with a shrimp and vegetable stir fry accompanied by orange sections. We toasted the arrival of the Year of the Dog, the eleventh animal in the twelve year cycle. However, we did not let our cats know what all the celebrating was about. That would have been uncharitable.

But there is a wonderful corollary here. I just found out that the Vietnamese lunar calendar does include a Year of the Cat. It is the fourth animal in the cycle where the rabbit would be on the Chinese zodiac. The next cat year will come around in 2023. The party at our house will be gigantic.

By Made by Fanghong


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