I cannot inherit the legacy and ancestry of this wonderful medicine I practice but I can always be mindful and appreciative of the customs which surround acupuncture.
For me, learning acupuncture is not just about learning where the points are. Or the theory.
It is also learning about the history of Chinese Medicine and culture.
I have previously written a brief history of Chinese Medicine here, but today I wanted to focus on the Lunar New Year.
It is important to me to continue learning about the Chinese culture. So if you have anything else which you think would be useful, I'd love it if you could send it to me.
I will talk about the Lunar New Year, as there are many countries which celebrate this festival, but I will of course talk specifically about Chinese New Year also and its history.
Love your fave (Letchworth) acupuncturist
The Lunar New Year will be celebrated, this year, on the 12th February 2021.
But the date does not always remain the same as it is determined by the second new moon which falls after the Winter solstice. This means, that the date can fall between 21st January and 21st February.
Interesting, in the paper below called the Mathematics of the Chinese Calendar we know that:
"possible dates for of Chinese New Year between 1645 and 2644 are between January 21 and February 21. We see that dates between January 22 and February 19 are common, January 21 and February 20 are rare, and February 21 is extremely rare. Chinese New Year will fall on February 21 in 2319"
In China, the Lunar New Year also marks the beginning of Spring and hence why it is also called the Spring Festival.
The History of the Chinese Calendars
It is widely thought that the Chinese New Year started in the Shang dynasty with various changes made through subsequent dynasties and different emperors.
"The Chinese emperor based his authority on being the Son of Heaven". In that case, it was very embarrassing if the calendar was not in harmony with the heavens"
Chinese Empeorors considered their knowledge on calendars to be paramount as they were the 'Son of Heaven'. If they made a mistake then their people would no longer consider them touched by heaven and not worthy of following.
There is really interesting further reading below around the Chinese Calendars. I had never really considered the complexity of a calendar before, so these are eye opening documents.
The Mathematics of the Chinese Calendar by Helmer Aslaksen
The Chinese Calendars by Kostic and Segan
Some Traditions of Lunar New Year
Cleaning - getting rid of the old to make way for the new. But don't throw anything away in the first five days of the New Year just in case you throw away the good luck.
Fish - don't eat the whole fish as otherwise you will lose all your savings.
Red envelopes - envelopes are given to family members containing money
Family time - it is estimated that the Lunar New Year sees the largest migration of people to see friends and family.
Firecrackers - believed to have been used to scare away 'Nian' and subsequently other evil spirits.
The Chinese Zodiac
Back in March 2020, I started a baby blanket. It had all the animals from the Chinese zodiac (see the picture below). The baby in question (who has already turned one at the time of writing) has still never received the blanket. Because, you know. Life!
Having read The Great Race to my children I decided I wanted to learn more about the animals associated with Chinese New Year.
The legend is that the Jade Emperor, an important figure in Chinese mythology, invited the animals to be his guards. The quickest to arrive at him would be the first through the heavenly gate.
So the Rat (who hadn't been invited) set off early, leaving his friend the cat sleeping, but he came across a deep and fast river which he couldn't cross. The Rat convinced the Ox to carry him over but slyly took the victory for himself.
So the Rat was the first animal to go through the heavenly gate and the start of the zodiac.
The order of the animals is:
This year, in 2021, we are celebrating the Year of the Ox.
This year is considered to be the Year of the Metal Ox. People born in the year of the Metal Ox are thought to be hardworking, active, and popular among friends.
Which animal are you?
I am Year of the Monkey. To be more precise Year of the Metal Monkey.
Smart, quick-witted, and confident, but also irritable and stubborn. Sounds about right (well the irritable and stubborn)!
If you are interested in learning more about the Lunar New Year here are some links that you might find useful:
The Myth Behind the Chinese Zodiac (5:56 watch)
The Chinese Zodiac Explained - (5:53 watch)