Bring on the Tiger Energy!
Gong Hei Fat Choy = Wishing you prosperity and good fortune in the new year! For one billion people around the world, February 1st was officially the first day of the Lunar New Year.
I always take the opportunity from Jan 1st until the Chinese New Year in February to gather myself and meet the year with new energy - ready for new opportunities and to be open to new possibilities. The Chinese New Year is special because of its relationship to astrology; it’s not just another number. Each year has a distinct animal assigned to it out of the 12 signs.
2021 was the Year of the Ox, and you don’t need to know anything about Chinese astrology to appreciate the qualities last year brings to mind. Steadfast, determined, contemplative, and cautious, the earthy Ox sign/year was about putting one foot forward and plodding along through uncertainty and restrictions. A generous Ox attitude towards others went a long way.
Enter the Tiger! Strength, urgency, and bold enthusiasm are a few of the Tiger’s traits. Adventuresome and powerful, the Tiger relishes freedom and relentlessly chases its prey - er, goals. This year is a Water Tiger, which gives some ease and flow to Tiger's intense energy. Are we getting back to business? Nothing will be “as usual” again, but renewed vigor for life will help us invent the way forward.
Some ad campaigns of the past featured the tiger - “Put a tiger in your tank” from an oil/gas company, to Tony the Tiger breakfast cereal fueling your day. Tiger Moms are fearsome and pursue their children’s success with vigor. The associations are clear!
The Year of the Tiger, like all celebrations, starts with gatherings of friends and family around special holiday foods that have specific meanings. Longevity noodles are literally extra-long and unbroken to signify a long life. A whole fish is eaten, with a bit leftover so that in the new year there will always be more than enough. The festivities go on for 15 days, each day with its own significance and traditions.
I’m especially keen on the prevalence of home altars, where incense is lit and intentions voiced (also present in your favorite Asian restaurants!) Honoring the Kitchen God and the God of Wealth are just a few of the illustrious deities to pay respects to at this time.
Red and gold colors symbolize good fortune and dominate the celebrations, from golden fruits to the red envelopes containing money given to children. Red lanterns mark the end of celebrations and symbolize letting go of the past, and creating something new (historically this day had a romantic spin - an early version of Valentine's Day?) Fireworks, which originated in China, are a staple of new year traditions around the world. Living in San Francisco for many years, my family would watch the parade - with its impressively fearless dragons- from a balcony just above the main stage in Chinatown. What a treat!
Charging into the New Year!
Peace, love and healing -