Putanga – Life on the Road

Stories from my journeys around the world…

Welcome Year of the Tiger

Posted by Monica Johansen on February 17, 2010

As you may have heard of, the Chinese follow the Lunar Calendar in addition to the western Solar Calendar that most of you are probably familiar with. The Lunar system is based on the moon phases, while the Solar system is based on the earth’s path relatively the sun, and the Chinese calendar actually combines the lunar and solar systems together.

Chinese New Year 2010

Basically, the Year and Day cycles use the solar system. In addition, there are two different Month cycles in the Chinese calendar. One uses the lunar system and the other uses the solar system. In the lunar system of Month, the new moon day is the first day of a lunar month. The length of a lunar month is the length of time between two new moon days. The name of a lunar Month is taken from the solar system, and the Chinese solar months are not like the months of a modern calendar. The Chinese calendar divides the year into 24 solar segments according to the sun positions on the tropical zodiac (similar to western astrology).

The Chinese Zodiac is a scheme that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year cycle. It is quite popular in several East Asian countries besides China and Taiwan. The zodiac signs represent twelve different types of personalities, and the animals assigned to these personalities are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster,  Dog and Pig.

Sunday February 14 was the first day in the Year of the Tiger, 2010. In Chinese culture the tiger is a symbol of dignity, ferocity, sternness, courage and protection, and the image of a tiger is often seen on clothing or in the home to ward off any semblance of harm and assure safekeeping. In China, the tiger is considered the king of all beasts and it represents powerful energy. Further, the tiger is associated with Tsai Shen Yeh, the Chinese God of Wealth, and this God is usually seen sitting on a tiger in Asian art.

Chinese New Year is the most important celebration for the Chinese, and in some countries the entire week is a public holiday. Singapore has a shorter celebration with only two weekdays off, and Monday and Tuesday were public holidays this week. Unfortunately, I was not able to take any time off since I was working in India. However, I arrived safely back in my home town this morning, and I am looking very much forward to a few days in familiar environments.

Gong Xi Fa Chai! 🙂

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