By Vijay Shah
It is time for another celebratory wallpaper to mark a specially illustrious occasion. This time, the blog is commemorating the Chinese New Year. A major highlight of revelry marked in the calendars of more than a billion people worldwide, both Chinese and non-Chinese, this fun and joyous festival will fall on the Sunday 10th February (just over a week away) with an abundance of spectacular fireworks displays, fine foods, family get-togethers and cheerful tidings of good luck, happiness and prosperity in the year ahead. The best places to witness Chinese New Year as its most spectacular is of course the People’s Republic of China, its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and in neighbouring Taiwan, but Chinese communities and Chinatowns from Kolkata and San Francisco to London and Mauritius will also be setting the skies ablaze with fiery colour and treating the public to delicious noodles and dumplings, while symbolic dragon dances wind their way down high streets to the tumultuous sound of drums and other instruments.
February 10 marks the arrival of the Year of the Snake. All years in this traditional calendar draw their names from a series of animals associated with traditional Chinese folklore. There are various legends about how the years got their names. According to one, many centuries ago, Lord Buddha assembled a group of animals for a very important meeting. Upon assembling representatives from a myriad species of the animal kingdom, the Lord announced that he would select the thirteen most faithful animals to be bestowed with his divine blessings. He would also honour each of the thirteen with a year named after their kind.
The animals in their eagerness to be immortalised for countless generations became very competitive. They immediately began to argue and dispute amongst themselves. They all felt that they should be among the Buddha’s chosen ones. The Lord, greatly troubled by the tension, decided to resolve matters through a swimming race across a notoriously turbulent river. The first 13 creatures to reach the other riverbank would be honoured by His Holiness, who decreed that the years would be named in order of who reached the bank first, then second, then third and so forth.
The Rat was the first to reach the other side of the river, so the Year of the Rat was named for it, though it had cheated by riding on the back of an Ox. The Rat was gravely afraid of the water. The Ox itself came second, so the second year of the cycle was subsequently the Year of the Ox. Soon after came the Rabbit, the Tiger, the Dragon, the Sheep, the Monkey touched dry land. Finally after many hours, the twelfth animal, Pig, lumbered ashore. The 12th year was named for our porky friend. The Cat would have been honoured with the thirteenth year, but alas, it was caught by the currents and washed up far downriver, having nearly drowned. Though Cat kept his nine lives, he lost his chance to be in the Chinese calendar.
It is widely acknowledged among Chinese astrologers that people born in particular years have certain common personality traits associated with the animal their year is named for. People born in the Year of the Snake (such as years 1977, 1953, 1989 and of course 2013) are said to be good mediators who are adept at sorting out problems in their home lives just as the Buddha resolved the argument of the assorted animals. Snakes are also great gatherers of possessions. They are motivated, cunning, brainy and wise.
Those babies born this year under the gaze of the Water Snake will likely grow up to be influential and able managers of people. They will be determined to achieve success and can be ruthless in that pursuit as far as colleagues and juniors at work are concerned. But with family and friends, Water Snakes will be kind and affectionate.
As with our previous wallpapers for festivals like Diwali and Christmas, the Half-Eaten Mind has opted for a GIF, or animated image that is vibrant and sparkly. Our colourfully traditional Chinese New Year image comes from the personal page of Kenneth Yee, an associate of the Penn State University in the United States. His page – which can be accessed from the “Image Credit” link underneath this article – details the celebrations surrounding the New Year, listing particular activities that Chinese people might do on festivity days. The image however was originally created by GraphicsArcade.com, whose website sadly appears to be offline now.
The image shows a cherub-like couple dressed in Hanfu costume holding banners wishing good luck and prosperity upon viewers. The banners are in red, a very lucky colour for the Chinese. During the New Year, children are gifted small red and gold envelopes containing money, as a symbol of the care of elders and a sign of wealth for now and the future.
The Half-Eaten Mind wishes all our readers a very prosperous and joyous Chinese New Year…
GONG XI FA CAI (Mandarin)/GUNG HEI FAT CHOI (Cantonese)
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“The Chinese Years of the Animals” , Natasha, Storynory LINK
“Chinese Horoscopes – The Snake” – The Wedding Planning Institute/Lovegevity Inc. LINK
“Chinese New Year Greetings” – Access Chinese/ Gestion M.R.P. LINK
“Chinese New Year Phrases” – Adam Sheik/”the ABC” , Learn Cantonese! (forums) LINK
“Chinese New Year” – Kenneth Yee, Pennsylvania State University (original source: graphicsarcade.com) LINK