Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Chinese New Year 2015│Year of the Goat: Embrace Energy, Creativity and Harmony

Chinese New Year 2015
Another new year is upon us. Chinese New Year 2015 is celebrated on February 19 as it coincides with the lunar calendar. 2015 is the year of the sheep, goat, and ram.

The Meaning of the Green Wooden Sheep
According to Chinese astrology, 2015 is the Year of the Green Wooden Sheep, and with this comes prospects for the new year. Understanding the significance and meaning of the green wooden sheep will be important in order to embrace the most benefits out of the upcoming year. In Chinese astrology, the sheep brings positive energy and creativity, while the color green represents harmony and nature, and the element of wood reinforces positive energy, good fortune, and creativity for the year 2015. The New Year is predicted to be lucky and highly prosperous for those who embrace it.

Embracing the Year of the Green Wooden Sheep
Each year brings opportunities to connect with unique aspects of Chinese astrology. Cultivating the year of the green wooden sheep will allow you to take advantage of the benefits the new year has to offer. Here are some tips on how you can embrace the green wooden sheep in your home and your life.

How to Decorate
How you decorate your home this year is going to be very important in harnessing the positive energy of the New Year. In Chinese astrology, the sheep appreciates quality, but has no interest in luxury. The sheep is happy with simplicity. Think about ways to declutter living areas. The green wooden sheep symbolizes nature, trying to add more greenery and plants to your home is a great way to cultivate this energy. Include wood and wool is another great way to embrace the New Year. Use these elements to create a warm and peaceful atmosphere in your home in 2015. Zodiac animals are often displayed in many areas of the home during the year. Don’t be afraid to add sheep figurines and symbols around your house.

How to Dress
As mentioned above, the sheep appreciates quality, but does not care about the price tag. Dress well by inquiring about materials and manufacturing, rather than price tag. Focus on adding a creative touch and personal style to your ensembles. Of course, shades of green are preferred in the clothes that you wear. If you can wear an item that was handmade such as a scarf, sweater, or hat you knitted yourself, you will be sure to feel the sheep’s positive, creative energy!

What to Eat
Sheep are plant eaters. They love to eat slowly and enjoy each bite of food. Eating green vegetables this year is an absolute must! Also, serving vegetarian dishes on Chinese New Year’s Eve is recommended to welcome in the green wooden sheep. We’re not saying avoid meat entirely, but this year is a particularly good year to explore meatless meals

What to Do
In the Chinese New Year, make an effort to bring your friends and family close together avoiding any conflicts. The sheep is a passive yet attentive sign, so give attention to others by listening to them and reserving judgements whenever possible. Try to be open to different ways of thinking and reasoning to better understand those around you. The green wooden sheep will increase the effect of any efforts in this direction!

Chinese New Year
Also known as Spring Festival, the Chinese festival marks the start of the new year, beginning on the second new moon after the winter solstice and ending on the full moon fifteen days later. It is celebrated by visits to family and friends, special meals, fireworks, and of course, gift giving. Chinese New Year is the most important celebration in the Chinese culture. It is also the longest celebrated holiday in Chinese culture!

How Chinese Culture Traditionally Celebrates Chinese New Year
Putting up decorations is a vital part of preparing and celebrating the Chinese New Year. Because it is the year of the green wooden sheep, many houses will be decorated with images of sheep to bring in luck for the New Year. Many houses celebrating Chinese New Year will have images of gods on their front door as a prayer for blessings, longevity, health, and peace. Door God Images are always seen holding weapons as if ready to fight because in China they represent righteousness and power.

Putting up Spring couplets or New Year Couplets around the house is another way to decorate for the New Year. Spring couplets are paired phrases, usually seven Chinese characters each, written on red paper in black ink and pasted on each side of a door frame. Pasting Spring couplets on your front door is said to bring best wishes for the New Year and ward off evil spirits from your home.

New Year paintings are put up within the house to bring in best wishes while creating a prosperous atmosphere. These paintings traditionally include flowers, birds, ripe fruit, treasure and the current Chinese zodiac animal.

The New Year’s Eve feast is an extremely important part of ringing in the New Year. This dinner is celebrated the night before New Year’s with all of the family members together. People in different parts of China eat different dishes at this meal, but most commonly families will prepare dumplings.

The Chinese officially ring in the New Year with the sound of loud bells that start ringing at midnight. People will gather in large squares or temples where huge bells are rung on New Year’s Eve. The Chinese culture believes that this tradition of ringing the bells wards off bad spirits and brings good luck with the start of the New Year.

Chinese New Year’s Day
In Chinese culture, how one celebrates the first day of the lunar calendar determines their fortune for the entire year. There are a few different ways to celebrate the New Year that can affect your luck in the coming year! Similar to celebrating The New Year in the United States, as soon as the clock strikes midnight the sky is populated with fireworks and firecrackers. This is one of the most important parts of celebrating Chinese New Year in China. Cities and towns are lit up with the bursting of lights from various firecrackers as a show for everyone to enjoy.

On the first day of the New Year, people greet each other with good wishes for the incoming year by saying “Gongxi”, literally translated to respectful joy. It is custom for family members to greet each other and others with this term of good luck. In recent years, it has been more common for the younger Chinese generation to send Gongxi in a text message or Ecard in addition to visiting friends and family on the first day of the New Year.

In China, lion dances and dragon dances are another popular celebratory event that can be seen on the first day of the New Year. This dance is performed by a group of dancers that manipulate a long and flexible figure of a dragon with poles positioned at different points of the dragon costume. Dragons are a symbol of China, and they are believed to bring good luck, therefore the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the New Year.

Common Gifts for Chinese New Year
Gift giving is a huge part of celebrating Chinese New Year. Each gift given by a family member brings the potential of good fortune and happiness for the New Year. Here are some traditional gifts that you can give to your family members to wish them luck and fortune in the year of the green wooden sheep!

1.  Chinese lanterns are a common gift given by Chinese family members and friends. These red lanterns come with gold pictures of the Chinese calendar animals. Since it is the year of the green wooden sheep, a fabulous gift for your loved ones would be a red lantern with the image of a gold sheep painted on it.

2.  Chinese abundance hangers are another popular gift for this special occasion that includes symbols such as a gourd or a lotus flower. Each symbol has a unique significance, for instance the Chinese consider the gourd to be a symbol of longevity that protects one from negative energy and bad spirits, while the lotus symbolizes the ability to rise up from even the darkest of moments. These hangers make a perfect gift for anyone that needs uplifting positive energy.

3.  Get your loved ones a porcelain figurine of their unique Chinese zodiac animal. Whether they are the year of the sheep, monkey, snake, dog, pig, rat, ox, rooster, horse, snake, tiger, rabbit, or dragon, Little Critterz has a special figurine for each Chinese zodiac sign! Spark their interest in Chinese New Year and give them an insight about themselves!

4.  One of the most common gifts for an elder to give their child/grandchild is a red and gold envelope of money. This tradition is called Lai See. The envelopes that hold the money are always red and gold because in Chinese culture these colors represent prosperity and good luck.

5.  This Chinese New Year give your loved ones a beautiful piece of Chinese jewelry like a silver longevity pendant. If you are aware of your loved ones zodiac animal, give them a necklace with a pendant of their specific sign.

6.  One of the Chinese New Year gifts that your dear ones will appreciate is a basket of fresh flowers that represent rebirth and new growth. Some of the flowers you can choose are peonies, azaleas and narcissus.

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