“If life were predictable it would cease to be life and be without flavor.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt, American political figure (1st lady), diplomat, activist, 1884-1962
Happy New Year! This month, we welcome the International New Year (obviously on 1st January), followed by the Lunar New Year on the 22nd. The Lunar New Year is a more significant festival for many Asian countries, such as the Spring Festival (chūn jié 春节 for Greater China, Malaysia, Singapore), Seollal (Korea), Tet or ‘Tết Nguyên Đán’ (Vietnam), Tsangaan Sar (Mongolia), Sonam Lhosar (Nepal, Sikkim), Chunyipai Losar (Bhutan), etc. While there are different celebrative activities (kite-flying, drumming, paper arts, lion and dragon dances, board games, etc.), many share similar cultural beliefs, such as the 12-animal zodiac cycle (though for the Vietnamese, instead of Rabbit as one of the animals, it is the Cat, possibly a result of pronunciation mix-up along the way).
For Christians, Christmastide is not over because the Twelve Days of Christmas ends on the Twelfth Night (i.e., the evening of 5th January. On the 6th, many families in Europe will celebrate Epiphany with the delicious King Cake (Galette des Rois) and continue gift-givings to remember the Magi, also known as the three Kings or three wise men (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar), presenting their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to infant Jesus.
And, for the Orthodox Christians, Christmas is celebrated on 7th January instead of 25th December because Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar that pre-dates the Gregorian calendar. So the Orthodox Epiphany will be celebrated on the 19th. Yes, it can be somewhat confusing, but that is because, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decided to adopt a new calendar (now known as the Gregorian calendar) instead of continuing with the Julian calendar (ref: Julius Cesar)! By the way, if you wish to learn more about Epiphany, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Happy New Year! 新年快乐, 万事如意!
A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.
This month, let me take the opportunity to address two common misconceptions for those new to the ancient Chinese culture: #1: The Chinese Zodiac sign changes with the Chinese/Lunar New Year – many would have thought that the Chinese Tiger year ends, while the Rabbit year begins on the 1st day of the Chinese/Lunar New Year (i.e. the 22nd of January). No, it doesn’t!
The 12-animal zodiac cycle follows the Chinese Astrology calendar, and the cycle change takes place on Li Chun (立春), the “Beginning of Spring.” Li Chun usually falls on February 3rd, 4th or 5th. For 2023, it will be the 4th; therefore, the Water Rabbit year will only start on the 4th of February in 2023. (i.e. babies born from the 22nd of January to the 3rd of February are still Water Tiger year babies…)
#2: One may think the year will be good when it aligns with one’s birth zodiac animal. No, not necessarily so. According to Chinese astrology beliefs, there is a concept known as “Fan Tai Sui (犯太岁)“, which means one may be in conflict or clash with the reigning Emperor (Grand Duke of Jupiter) during one’s birth zodiac year. The year may be challenging, i.e. it can be excellent if one’s luck is high, or it can be rather devastating when one’s fortune is low. If you are interested to know more about this concept – here is a quick read: https://www.
So while we await the Water Rabbit year in February, let’s return to the International (Gregorian) or Lunar New Year.
Now, what is in a year? 365 days, 8,760 hours. If we divide our activities into 30-minute blocks, we will have 17,520 blocks in a year. By the time you read this, assuming you open the newsletter the minute it reaches you, 8 hours or 16 blocks would have slipped through your 2023 clock, and you would have had 17,504 blocks left. Yes, Time is our most precious asset because no one can ever get it back once it is gone (at least not until there is a time machine.) On top of that, no one will know how much time we each have in our possession.
Because it is so precious, we need to use our time intentionally regardless if we follow the Gregorian, Lunar, or Chinese Astrology calendar. A new year is simply a time for Renewal – it is a season to reconnect with the people we care about and decide what matters to us most. Let’s not waste it; let’s get busy for the remaining 17,503 blocks (or less, depending on when you read this line!) and enjoy every moment this new cycle brings!
Good luck, good health and much happiness!
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Crossing Cultures – Beyond Boundaries