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Posted on February 18th, 2015 by Don Cerow


The Chinese Spring Festival, otherwise known in the West as the Chinese New Year, is the most important family festival of the entire calendar year. This is a special time, a magical time, when the traditions attempt to secure peace, prosperity and happiness for their people, bringing families together in a eight day celebration commencing on the first day with a great meal.

Those who have studied the Dragon know that for many centuries it was the keystone to the arch, the summit of heaven, around which all things turned. This point must be determined and carefully pinpointed, lest the entire circle be off and thrown into disarray. Dragon dances depict the undulating rhythms of the constellational counterpart, and the difficulty of locating it’s pearl, or center. Unlike the western zodiac, which has a number of mythical creatures (centaur and goat-fish for instance), the Chinese zodiac has but one, the Dragon, yet this is distinguished from their Imperial Dragon. The Dragon of the Chinese zodiac is drawn with four toes and is known as the common or plebeian dragon. The Imperial Dragon, at one time the guardian of a ‘pearl’ of great wisdom, had five toes and was not to be depicted by anyone outside of the Imperial court upon pain of death.

Plebeian dragon? No problem. Draw, write or paint it anywhere you want.

Red is supposed to be an auspicious color, representing life and luck. To this end red lanterns are hung, red money bags (helping to ‘goose’ prosperity through the coming year) are given to youngsters and the elderly. Even the New Year’s Dragon is oftimes depicted in red.

The Chinese think of the New Moon in Aquarius (which can run anytime from January 21st to February 20th, while the Sun is transiting through the tropical sign Aquarius) as their spring ritual. They associate it with the color red, just as the western system believes the Sun’s crossing the Vernal Equinox, marking the start of Spring with Aries sojourn through the skies, as being associated with the red planet, Mars, its ruler. Thus, in East or West, red is culturally thought to be the color of new beginnings and the start of the year even though they are located during different months of the year. Whether this tradition extends back to the traditions of the Red Paint People (Maritime Archaic), a culture that covered the dead in their burial mounds with ochre, usually red in color, in a practice that ran from 7000 to 1000 BC is enticing. It would make sense that life, luck and vitality would be conferred upon those who are lifeless, to give them an extra boost on their way into the after world for the next phase of their spirit journey.

Traditionalists will find this notion far fetched as each is far apart in time and space.

Doesn’t bother me much.

The traditions associated with the New Year are similar in theme in both cardinal directions. Sow seeds that are symbolic of growth and prosperity, and stay away from things that do the opposite. Give gifts, eat fun food, and be happy. Praying in a temple gets a big thumbs up. Crying during the first few days, even among children, is a no-no. You’re not supposed to clean, as that might stir up the old issues and bring them present. Shampooing is a restriction presumably operating under the same notion. You are, however, supposed to clean out the house in the final days of the old year, but not during the holiday. Like the red lanterns, red underwear is supposed to bring prosperity and luck as well.

Hubba, hubba.

As to the influence of the year of the Wood Goat, I am not an expert, but here is what one site had to say about it.

“People for whom the Wood element and Goat zodiac sign align for their birth year are amicable, gentle, compassionate and ready to help others. They get along with their friends and colleagues in life.

They have to do everything themselves because they cannot get help from their family members but, luckily, they have a happy family life owing to their good wife.

Wood Goats often live alone or feel lonely in married life, and their spouse often travels. However, they have a steady marriage bond; what’s more, it’s very hard for a third person to come between them.”

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