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place where East meets West
We’ve officially entered the year of the Pig according to the Chinese Calendar and the year of the pig is very special indeed. There are twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac and they rotate yearly meaning the last time we were in the year of the Pig was twelve years ago. According to the Chinese Zodiac, you are considered a pig if you were born in the year of the pig, a rat if you were born in the year of the rat and so on. Each animal has its own personality and traits, lucky numbers, lucky colors, unlucky numbers and of course strengths and weaknesses that are said to correspond to the person born in that year, similar to the western astrology signs. Alongside the pig and the rat, the other animals that complete the twelve year cycle are the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster and the dog.
Pigs and those born in the year of the pig are considered to be realists, careful with their money but also know how to let their hair down and have a fun. They can be materialistic but not in a bad way, owning solid objects simply gives them motivation to work hard. Full of energy, they love to take on positions of power and authority too. Women born in the year of the pig tend to be excitable, outgoing and extrovert, attending as many social events as possible. Their easy going personality attracts friends however they can be seen as overbearing at times, not allowing their friends to have alone time. According to mythology, these women love children but hate mess and tend to be highly organised. Men on the other hand, are gentle and optimistic but not very good at handling money. They are laid back too although this can often be preserved as gullible and too trusting of others.
As far as relationships go, they are most compatible with Tigers, Rabbits and Goats, while they will struggle to find harmony with Snakes and Monkeys.
There are many myths and legends surrounding the Chinese Zodiac but one of the most popular involving the pig all started with an invite to the Jade Emperor’s party. It was said that the order of the animals (the pig being the twelfth and last animal) would be determined on a first come first served basis. The story goes that pig was late to the party because he overslept and therefore earned his last place title. Another story of the same strain suggests that a wolf destroyed the pigs home just before the party and so he had to rebuild it before he could join the other animals. He may have been last but the pig is still considered a sign of wealth and good fortune.
It sounds rather superstitious but the Chinese take the year of their birth very seriously, in particular the unlucky aspects of it. In order to counteract these negatives, many Chinese people will wear red underwear or socks and jewellery that has been passed down by older generations.
In China, the new year is a time for families to be together at home. The celebrations revolve around the new year’s eve meal called Reunion Dinner which features many traditional dishes with symbolic meaning behind them. After dinner, many families will stay up late and watch the Spring Festival Gala on television as well as sending best wishes messages to their friends much like the Western world does on their New Year’s Eve. Of course, outside the home, red decorations including traditional lanterns are strung up on the streets, buildings and houses and fireworks are set off from the very first minute of the new year.
In the west, there is definitively a less festive atmosphere overall, however head on down to the nearest Chinatown and you’ll be able to see a more celebratory scene. Often major cities such as Paris will hold a Chinese New Year Parade as well as holding cultural events like exhibitions, talks and concerts all across the city throughout the month of February.