Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gong Xi Fa Cai

That's this household wishing a happy, healthy, and prosperous Chinese Lunar New Year to all readers.  My late father-in-law taught me to say this many years ago but not to spell it, so the Mandarin wish in the title required some help to write.  He said that the actual translation was "Good Luck, Make Money". It made him happy, and he was pleased to view me as a convert.

It's the year of the sheep, but there is consternation about that by some.  Today's Google home page cartoon has the year celebrated by an animal with a sheep body and a ram's head.  Wife K always thought of it as the year of the ram, as that was what it was generally called in New York Chinatown. In other places it is called the year of the goat, as the Han Dynasty from which the calendar originated many centuries ago was based in a region of goat herders.  In fact, sheep, goats and rams are all part of the same animal family, and it is said that in Han China there was not the distinct separation of the species.  Today, those born in the year of the sheep can take heart, and know that they have the tenacity of a goat, the strength of a ram, and their own gentle nature.

Among Chinese this day can be a frenzied festival of hung bao giving, hot pot eating, firecracker popping, gong banging, and moon cake bribing, or otherwise it is often simply an almost sacred time for extended families to get together and do just about the same thing.  It's the most important day of the year, a new beginning.

What a time it can be.


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