Happy Lunar New Year! Did You Eat Your Noodles?

Happy Lunar New Year! Welcome the Year of the Sheep.

The Chinese/Lunar New Year is here. Time to eat noodles for longevity and spend time with family. Last year, according to Asian tradition, last year was the most “dangerous year,” as it was the Year of the Horse. Some may be familiar with the Chinese Zodiac intimately, but for others, the knowledge is limited to the placemats at our favorite restaurant. Why do the animals change and what does the Sheep represent?

As explained in the Elephant Journal, according to Asian and Buddhist tradition, the 12 years are assigned an animal totem as the animals are purportedly were the ones that visited the Buddha at his parinirvana (time of death). The 12 totems are also combined with the five elements which are ruled by the planets.

The element fire is represented by Mars, earth by Saturn, metal by Venus, water by Mercury and wood by the unity of the previous four elements which happens to be ruled by Jupiter. The five elements and 12 totems combine and comprise the 60 year life cycle of a human being. Every year brings a new animal and it’s distinct personality influenced by the element and planet associated with it.

So what will 2015 usher in? The wood element and the unity of the previous four elements ruled by Jupiter is represented by the sheep. After a tumultuous Year of the Horse, it is time to exhale. Personal harmony, tranquility and creativity rule the scene but at the same time, there is discord on a global scale.

Due to the fact that our world is now smaller (thanks to the internet) it’s hard to disengage from the global issues that can cause internal distress. As the Year of the Sheep provides tranquility, the best way to deal with this discord is to focus on meditation and self-care. Creating boundaries is essential and unplugging from technology can help restore peace and balance to the home. Spend time outdoors and with family members and draw a boundary to protect yourself and your loved ones from the stress of the global scene.

Why is this retreat to calm important? Unfortunately, the Year of the Sheep can easily change into the Year of the Goat. Sheep have a tendency to follow a strong leader. If the leader leads into chaotic thinking, then the year will shift into the Year of the Goat as people will revolt over strife and conflict will arise.

Who are these Sheeple? People born this year and 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 and 2003. Personalities include people who are dedicated to a particular pursuit or a creative career. Sheep are also impulsive, quick to act or speak and have difficulty resisting temptation or spending money. Sheep are best paired with Rabbits or Pigs who are more grounded and balance their Sheep partners.

What is the best way to celebrate the Lunar New Year?

Traditionally, the house is cleaned to sweep out the bad luck and family comes over for a celebratory dinner with noodles, dumplings, meats and cake. According to the Today show, dumplings represent prosperity.

“The shape of the dumplings resembles a gold ingot, an old form of currency in China, so making and eating them is good luck because it will bring wealth into the new year,” Chef Joanne Chang explained to Today.

“It’s also a family activity to sit around the kitchen table and make dumplings and the importance of family is really stressed at the new year,”she said.

Whole fish is another popular dish that symbolizes abundance. Want a long life to enjoy all that wealth? Make a dish of long noodles but be sure not to break them. “Leave them long to imply long life,” says the chef.

Red paper decorations adorn the doors and windows to attract incoming luck. Lighting firecrackers to scare away evil spirits and giving money in a red paper envelope know as “lai see” as a form of blessings are part of the tradition. Other rituals include offering prayers to ancestors and deities and elaborate parades featuring the lion dance.

However you choose to celebrate, have a safe and happy new year!