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Source: 7428.net

Chinese New Year 2013 Celebrates Year of the Snake

By NuHerbs Staff

The 2013 Chinese New Year begins with the New Moon in humanitarian Aquarius on February 10th. This astrological position encourages freedom from normal conventions, inviting us to be innovative and pursue our own unique experience. In conjunction with the western zodiac, this cycle of the Chinese zodiac marks the beginning of the year of the Snake. This Snake year calls for focus, discipline, and attention to detail. These qualities will ensure steady progress toward what you set out to achieve.

Celebration:

Chinese New Year is the most important traditional Chinese holiday and is widely celebrated throughout the world. Also known as the Spring Festival, the celebration itself often lasts fifteen days, commencing with first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar (this year falling on February 10th) and culminating with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day. The days leading up to this special day will consist of thorough cleaning of the homes in order to cleanse away the bad luck of the previous year and prepare for the arrival of good fortune the new year will bring. For this reason, brooms and dust pans are also put away on the first day as not to invite the immediate sweeping away of this new fortune. Various decorations in red (the color that wards off evil spirits and bad fortune, so representative of good luck) and calligraphy of auspicious phrases are placed in windows and doorways to further attract and enhance greatness in the coming year. Paying off debt, purchasing new clothes, and cutting hair are also common practices during the Chinese New Year celebration because they represent a fresh new start.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, the entire family often gathers at or near the home of the eldest family member for a Reunion Dinner. This meal is often an elaborate feast consisting of a plethora of food to symbolize abundance, wealth, happiness, and good fortune. The dishes served include meats like pork, chicken, duck, fish, and other foods whose name are a homophone for words of good fortune. Some examples of this are the vegetarian dish Buddha’s delight (luo han zhai) that features a black hair-like algae called fat choy in Cantonese sounds like "prosperity," fish (yu) sounds like "surplus," and leek (suan) sounds like "calculating money." Other foods are served at the dinner for their symbolism. These examples include dumplings whose shapes resemble ancient Chinese gold and silver currency, seeds of any variety symbolize fertility and having many children, and uncut noodles symbolize longevity.

The first day of the Chinese New Year is for welcoming the deities of the heavens and earth, celebrated by lighting fireworks, firecrackers, or bamboo sticks in order to chase away evil spirits. Lion dancers are also seen performing on this day as part of the ritual to usher in the New Year as well as ward off bad spirits. Another very important practice on this day is to honor and pay respect to one’s elders, such as parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. These senior members of the family will often give red envelopes containing cash (lai see) to the younger family members as a form of blessings for good fortune, health, and prosperity for the coming year.

The celebration continues in much the same manner in the following days, with festivities, family, and deity worship. The most popular deities venerated during this period are the Jade Emperor (the Taoist Ruler of Heaven), Zao Jun (the God of Kitchen), and Guan Yu (the God of War). The 15th day of celebration ends with the Lantern Festival. On this day, sweet glutinous rice dumplings (tang yuan) are eaten; lighted candles are placed outside of homes, and families walk together carrying lighted lanterns in order to guide the wayward spirits home.

Cosmic Correspondences:

The Chinese zodiac is comprised of twelve animals, each animal ruling a one-year period. The Snake is sixth (an even number) in the order of sequence, so is considered a Yin animal. However, within the 12-year animal cycle, the 2013 Year of the Snake commences the Fire cycle (consisting of the year of the Snake, Horse, and Sheep) as the 2012 Year of the Dragon ends the Wood cycle. Due to this reason, the Snake person appears to be soft on the exterior, but actually possess an internal toughness, illustrating Fire within Water and Yang within Yin. Because the Wood energy resides in the east and the Fire energy resides in the south, this year’s fortune is in the directional change of east to south (i.e. southeast). There are several ways in which the Five Element cycle exerts its influence along the 12-year continuum. Juxtaposed onto the 12-year animal zodiac is a 5-year period when each element rules the astrological charts. A clear illustration of this is seen in the transition from the 2011 Year of the White Rabbit (Metal) to 2012 Year of the Black Dragon (Water). The Water element will continue to rule the zodiac until 2017, when the control will be yielded to the Wood element in the Year of the Rooster. This nomenclature also produces a 12-year cycle pairing of element and animal of the zodiac. To clarify, this means that because the year 2013 belongs to the Water Snake, the next revolution of the Snake in 2025 will belong to the Wood Snake. This Year of the Water Snake is also called Year of the Black Snake or Year of the Black Water Snake due to the correspondence of the Water element to the color black.

The Water of 2013 and the Fire of the Snake are opposing elements. Therefore, many people may experience a mixture of both good and bad luck in the coming year. With the color black representative of the Abyss, the Black Snake brings with it unexpected changes and instability. Therefore, it is most important to evaluate adequately, plan soundly, and act cautiously this year. The Snake needs to feel protected and safe in order to move slowly and methodically in reaching its goal or destination.