horse2014Today is the Lunar New Year (AKA Chinese New Year) and this year is the year of the horse. Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. This year that we call 2014 is the Chinese year 4712.

Chinese calendar months are based on the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day.

A lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on cycles of the lunar phases. Because there are slightly more than twelve lunations (synodic months) in a solar year, the period of 12 lunar months (354.37 days) is sometimes referred to as a lunar year.

A common purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar  which always has 12 months. But the months are not linked with the seasons and drift each solar year by 11 to 12 days, but it realigns in relation to the solar year approximately every 33 Islamic years. It is used mainly for religious purposes, but in Saudi Arabia it is the official calendar.

Other lunar calendars often include extra months added occasionally to synchronize it with the solar calendar. The oldest known lunar calendar was found in Scotland; it dates back to around 10,000 Before Present (BP).

Chinese New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks off as a holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

In Chinese astrology, a Horse year is considered a fortunate year.  This is no ordinary horse but one that has supernatural powers and can fly.  It appears as a white celestial cloud Horse who is sacred to the Chinese Goddess Kwan Yin.

Of course, in ancient times the horse was key to winning battles and so figured in much mythology. The horse symbolizes travel, speedy success, freedom, passion and leadership.

In China, horse were not relegated to doing farm work because they were so honored. (The oxen did farm work.)

Since owning and riding a horse was associated with nobility and higher ranking families, so supposedly people born in the Horse year usually care about their dressing, outlook and speech.

The Chinese Zodiac uses 12 animal signs to predict people’s fortune: Rat, Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and Pig.