BY PAT SUMMERS
It’s goodbye to the Year of the Dragon and hello to the Year of the Snake today because it’s also time for “Happy Chinese New Year!” greetings.
In 12-year cycles, the Chinese calendar reflects the Chinese zodiac of 12 animals, starting with the Rat and followed by Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig, according to Wikipedia.org.
Each zodiac animal is linked with characteristics that are believed to influence the personality of someone born during that year. Snakes, or serpents, for instance, are regarded as intelligent, but with a tendency to be somewhat unscrupulous, reports Wikipedia, on the subject of Chinese symbology.
Each of the 12 zodiac animals is associated with a two-hour period during the day, as well, with “the hour of the snake” occurring from 9-11 am – “the time when the sun warms up the earth and snakes are said to slither out of their holes.”
Wherever in the world there are sizeable Chinese populations, people celebrate the New Year – if not by country, then in Chinatowns everywhere. Some New Jersey libraries and schools mark this major holiday with festival-like activities.
Traditionally a time to honor deities and ancestors, Chinese New Year is reportedly also an occasion for thorough house-cleaning (symbolically getting rid of ill fortune and making way for good luck), visits to family and friends, family meal, use of red decorations and red envelopes for money gifts, lion dances and fireworks. The New Year celebration ends with Lantern Festival, and according to the Western calendar, the year of the snake ends January 30, 2013, ushering in the year of the horse.
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Freelance writer Pat Summers also blogs at www.nj.com/pets.