This New Year blew in on an ocean breeze… knocked me out with a bout of mystery sickness… and then suddenly dropped 2 wonderful job opportunities into my lap.** As I’m still reeling from the roller coaster that’s been 2010, I’m starting to realize that perhaps these new changes are just part and parcel of the “Year of the Tiger,” which according to the Chinese zodiac is symbolic of intensity, change, drama, and new opportunities.
I’m smiling as I write this since “change,” “drama” and “opportunity” are definitely a part of every year, in every country, despite particular zodiac alignments. But out of sheer curiosity into this intensely (and loudly) celebrated holiday, I thought I’d devote this post to the current hubbub that is the Chinese New Year, 2010 “Year of the Tiger”… Rawr!
Chinese New Year, also called “Spring Festival,” is the most celebrated and important holiday within Chinese cultures. Based on the Lunar calendar, the New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice and thus differs from the Gregorian New Year date of January 1st. So while the rest of you are recovering from that big New Year’s bash by making grandiose resolutions, the Chinese approach January 1st as just the first day of a really cold month.
This year, the CNY falls on February 14th…which we also know in the West as “Hallmark Day” or “Buy Me Flowers Day” or “I’m Going to Stay Home and Drink a Bottle of Wine Alone Day.” Since the Chinese celebrate both holidays commercially, it looks like this Sunday is going to be the cupid versus the dragon…and something tells me that the dragon has more clout.
Viewing this special holiday through a pair of expat eyes, it is easy to compare the big event to Christmas/Hanukkah celebrations in the West. Bright decorations of red paper lanterns and ornamental scripts adorn homes, people are bustling around buying gifts, food and alcohol to consume and exchange, and all businesses, schools and government institutions are closed for the next 7 days.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the “Eve” of the CNY, a time in which everyone travels home for reunion feasts with their extended family. In fact, this period is actually the largest human migration period in the world, as more trips are taken during this holiday than the total population of China all together (in 2008, the number of trips taken during the month of the CNY totaled 2.26 billion!)
So…this is why the boyfriend and I are spending this particular holiday on a “stay-cation.” Battling the largest human migration in the world for a seat on that train? No thanks.
Hopefully, in between eating, watching fireworks and drinking some New Year’s libations, I’ll also get to put up some posts regarding this festive time in Shanghai. Because isn’t it about time we read about a more noble and honorable Tiger other than that creep in the news? I think so. Stay tuned and Xinnian Kuai Le! 新年快乐！
PS: Click here to find out what zodiac sign represents your birth year according to the Lunar calendar. I’m a rooster.
** I’ve started work as an assistant editor for the Shanghai International Channel’s evening news program “The Spotlight” and am now blogging over at the Shanghaiist.com—ranting about life as an expat and Shanghai happenings.