2019: The Year of the Pig

By, Meredith Jenkins 

 

2019 marks the Year of the Pig, which is the twelfth and last year in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. After this lunar year, the cycle resets with the Year of the Rat. The Pig is a “yin” and also a water sign. The closest Western correspondent sign is the Scorpio. According to the Chinese astrology, 2019 is a great year to make money and a good year to invest. 2019 is going to be full of joy, a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs because the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life. 

According to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, the Chinese New Year 2019 Festival starts on Tuesday, February 5th. Chinese New Year is also called “Spring Festival” and “Lunar New Year” because it falls in spring and is dated based on the Chinese lunar calendar. For over 1,000 years it has been the most important and widely celebrated holiday in the world. Associated with many fascinating legends and customs, it is a time for honoring deities and ancestors, full of prayers, offerings and other acts of devotion.  

 

The public holiday in China for celebrating the New Year lasts 15 days. The Lunar New Year is celebrated worldwide in countries with big Chinese communities, including Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. The holiday is the cause of the largest annual mass human migration in the world with over 3.6 billion trips made in China.   

Chinese mythology claims that Nian was a creature that lived under the sea or on top of mountains. It is said that every year at the beginning of the Spring Festival, the Nian would come out of hiding to eat the crops and sometimes the villagers. People discovered how to scare him away with red lanterns and explosions of fireworks, which led the traditional New Year’s celebration. Fireworks, traditional lion and dragon dances, lantern displays and street performances mark the 15-day festival, culminating with the Lantern Festival.  

This holiday is so widely celebrated that the world record for the most text messages sent in a single day is broken each year on Chinese New Year. 

Lunar New Year Image 2.jpeg

TRADITIONS 

Before the New Year, Chinese people get haircuts to keep evil spirits away. People also try to settle all of their debts, make amends with others and rekindle relationships prior to the New Year. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, people open their doors and windows to let the old year go out. 

 

On Chinese New Year, many people buy gold to welcome the New Year. Red is the color associated with fire, which is thought to ward off evil spirits, so many Chinese people wear red during the New Year Festival. Chinese often give a red envelope with money to children for prosperity and good luck. On New Year’s Day, no one washes or cuts their hair, nor do they use scissors or cry because all of these things are thought to bring bad luck in the year to come. Superstitious Chinese people can consult an Almanac in order to find out which is the best time and direction to leave the house on New Year’s Day. 

 

Dragons are a big part of the New Year celebration. They are legendary creatures that are known to scare away evil spirits, bring wisdom, good luck, wealth and prosperity. The Dragon Dance is an ancient traditional Chinese dance performed during the Spring Festival in hopes of attracting peace and prosperity for the whole nation. As millions of Chinese people started to emigrate abroad, the tradition of this dance has become a symbol of the Chinese culture. 

FOOD 

Longevity noodles (unusually long, uncut noodles) is one of the main dishes served on New Year and represents longevity. Other lucky dishes include fish (prosperity), dumplings (wealth), spring rolls (wealth) sweet rice balls (family togetherness), good fortune fruit (fullness and wealth) and glutinous rice cake (higher income/social status). Any kind of fish or bird is traditionally served whole, including the head and feet. 

The Tray of Togetherness is a platter full of sweets used traditionally by families to welcome visiting guests and around the Spring Festival. Watermelon seeds are also common, as they are a symbol of fertility. 

Lunar New Year Image 4.jpeg

HOME DECORATIONS 

Preparations for the holiday start one month prior when people buy presents, materials for decorations, food and clothes. People also start cleaning their homes to chase away bad luck and paint their doors and windows red. These are then decorated with red paper strips (Chun Lian) with different wishes of happiness, prosperity and long life written on them. Before New Year, the Chinese decorate their living rooms with flower vases, plates full of oranges and tangerines (symbolizing great happiness) and a tray of sweets consisting of eight kinds of dried fruit (8 is considered the luckiest number in Chinese culture as it signifies wealth and prosperity). 

 

Feng Shui—the use of energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment—is very important in Chinese culture. The top 4 Feng Shui items for homes in 2019 are: 

  1. Pi Yao Statue – attracts wealth and brings good fortune 

  2. Pig Statue – brings happiness and prosperity 

  3. Himalayan Salt Lamp – great for romantic evenings, calming nerves and sleeping 

  4. Foo Dogs Guardian Lion – protects a family’s wealth and social status 

Merdeth Jenkins