As We Say Goodbye to the Tiger, the Year of the Rabbit is Most Welcome
An Ancient Tradition in Modern Times
As the most important and festive of the traditional Chinese holidays, the 2011 Chinese New Year of the Rabbit starts February 3 and will end January 22, 2012. The celebrations begin New Years Eve and continue until the full moon 15 days later.
Every year, the New Moon in Aquarius marks the Chinese New Year. Rather than have a fixed date each year, the Chinese culture tunes into more natural celestial events. Aquarius is the sign that represents humanitarianism so there may be something to this approach that we in the west can learn from this ancient civilization.
The influence of the Chinese culture is sweeping the world and for good reason. In its most pure expression, the philosophy underlying its traditional practices is Taoism, which is very holistic. Chinese Astrology, Medicine, Feng Shui, Tai Chi and Chi Gong all share a common holistic foundation.
The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old. Honored in countries with significant Chinese populations, it is also celebrated in countries that don’t recognize it as their own national holiday, such as Canada, United States and Australia. For many, the spectacular New Year parades throughout China towns are the main attraction, showcasing colorful costumes, elaborate floats and performances, fireworks, lion dances and the hundred foot-long dragon puppet made from silk, bamboo and paper.
The tradition is every family thoroughly cleans their house to sweep away any ill-fortune with the intention to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red color paper cut-outs with positive themes of "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". Living rooms are adorned with blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year's Eve of the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated with a family feast. Each following day of the 2 week celebration marks customary activities, and the 15th day is the Lantern Festival celebrated at night, with children carrying lanterns in a parade.
The Year of the Metal Rabbit
According to the Chinese Five Element Astrology Calendar, February 3, 2011 marks the year of the Metal Rabbit, with Metal giving strength and endurance, and the elemental colour white. Known to be one of the luckiest and gentlest of the 12 animal signs, it is believed the year of the Rabbit will bring a welcome change after the fierce year of the Tiger which began February 14, 2010. Bringing a more congenial and diplomatic mood, the Rabbit symbolizes graciousness, good manners, sound counsel and kindness. It is said that the Rabbit year will bring more calm, peace or respite from conflict or war.
The Chinese New Year is a celebration of change; out with the old and in with the new! A Chinese proverb says that all creations are reborn on New Year’s Day. We can all benefit by celebrating this ancient tradition to bring renewal into our own lives.