Chinese New Year
by Kerry Joyce on October 8th
The Chinese New Year is the most important of all traditional Chinese holidays, with festivities usually commencing on the first day of the first month and ending on the 15th.
However, the cyclical Chinese New Year has not always been clearly numbered, so there remains some doubt over the exact date under the system. Nevertheless, the year 2009 is either 4706, 4707 or 4646 in so-called Chinese years, depending on how the calendar is interpreted and applied. Of course, the precise date, whilst obviously quite important, is not the most significant element of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Indeed, the Chinese New Year is a period that is steeped in ancient mythology that aims to explain the nature and balance of life on Earth in terms of wood, metal, fire, earth and water. These elements are involved in a yin and yang relationship that alternates annually and are combined with the Chinese animal zodiac. In short, the cycle repeats itself every 60 years, so a person born between 26th January 2009 and 14th February 2010 will do so in the year of the Earth Ox, which was last reached on the calendar between 29th January 1949 and 16th February 1950. The animal zodiac comprises the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon,
snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, all of which are imbued with distinct aracteristics.
Thus, the Chinese New Year celebrates new life and rebirth, which are essential in order to preserve the cyclic nature of the period. Undoubtedly, the celebration of the Chinese New Year is among the most spectacular events experienced in the world. Flowers are highly symbolic of the Chinese New Year and, in particular, azalea, peony and water lily are the most representative of new growth. Traditional Chinese New Year flowers tend to be red or gold, as red is symbolic of happiness whilst gold signifies wealth and prosperity.
Peach blossom and kumquat are well regarded for inclusion in Lunar New Year arrangements as they signify longevity and good fortune. Gold, significant of prosperity and wealth, is also a common addition to flower arrangements for the Lunar New Year so yellow flowers are also popular, particularly when paired with their red counterparts. Sunflowers in particular signify wishes for a good year and common in such arrangements.
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