sheep

The Google Doodle decided it is the Year of the Sheep

Today is Chinese New Year which is the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. It is estimated that almost 3 billion trips will be made across China as people make the journey home to celebrate with their families.

This celebration, known as chun yun, is the longest national holiday in China, spanning a total of fifteen days. Day one is the most important day but the first three days of the new year are a statutory holiday and many people will be off for the first 6 days.

Yes, China has been using the same Gregorian calendar we use here in Paradelle since 1912, but the ancient Chinese lunar calendar is what creates this New Year.

In that lunar calendar, the New Year is changeable and  falls on the second New Moon after winter solstice. That puts it somewhere between January 21 and  February 19.

2014 was the Year of the Horse (though the lunar year is not always comparable to our January-December calendar year) and that has ended but this new year is a bit unusual because you may see it named the Year of the Goat or the Year of the Sheep. The confusion is because the Chinese character “yang” can be translated in colloquial Chinese as either sheep or goat.  I’m reading that in France, it is being called the Year of the Goat. In America, sheep has favor. In China, they are less concerned with the distinction.

I read at the end of 2014 that some people in China were concerned about births and marriages occurring in a sheep year as it was a “bad year.” The common impression is that sheep are meek, doltish “followers.”  Some of this seems to come from the late Qing dynasty (late 19th century)  when the Empress Dowager Cixi and several other high officials were despised. They all happened to be born in the Year of the Sheep/Goat and so it becamse associated with a negative spin. Followers of the Chinese zodiac say that all 12 signs are auspicious, so don’t worry.

 

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