The Lunar New Year begins on (using our Western Gregorian calendar) Tuesday, February 5, 2019. For most Westerners, this is known as the Chinese New Year and this year is the Year of the Pig. The date changes from year to year because it’s based on a lunar calendar, but it usually falls somewhere between mid-January and mid-to-late February.
But the Lunar New Year is also celebrated by other countries in East Asia, such as the celebration of Tet (in Vietnam) and Seollal (in South Korea).
In China, this is a time when many people return to their hometown to visit family. But in the United States, there are also festivities that many people – Asian and not – are aware of and may participate in, such as special foods and fireworks. Families will often give “lucky money” to young people, making offerings to ancestors and decorating and dressing in red color of the holiday.
The Pig is the last, the twelfth, of all zodiac animals. One myth is that the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party, and Pig was late because he overslept. Another myth story says that a wolf destroyed his house and he had to rebuild his home before he could go to the party and so had to take twelfth place. So, the last Year of the Pig was 2007.
The Pig is associated with the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) hài (亥), and the hours 9–11 pm. In terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Pig is yin. In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth, and their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well.
People born in the Year of the Pig are said to have similar personalities and characteristics:
Pigs might not stand out in a crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs are the opposite.
Though not wasteful spenders, they will let themselves enjoy life. They love entertainment and will occasionally treat themselves. They are a bit materialistic, but this is motivation for them to work hard. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them security.
They are energetic and are always enthusiastic, even for boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. They believe that only those people have the right to speak, and that’s what they want.
There are cities in America that host large Lunar New Year celebrations. The only one that I have ever attended is in New York City. The city has one of the largest populations of ethnic Chinese people outside of Asia. If you visit the main “Chinatown” section of Manhattan tomorrow it will be a crowded party (despite cold weather) with parades and restaurants crowded with diners of all backgrounds ordering special holiday dishes. Actually, there are about ten “Chinatowns” in the New York City metro area. The Chinatown in Flushing, Queens has its own parade, and there are Lunar New Year celebrations in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.