The year of the horse is beginning, now that the Chinese New Year has started. Celebrations across the world took place in Asian communities. The horse is the second most popular animal in the zodiac, with the dragon coming in first. The horse represents energy and loyalty. In China, firework displays were seen in many cities, and according to folklore, the noise and sights will scare bad spirits away. Feasting also took place, and food included traditional rice cakes and a variety of savory dumplings.
Those who celebrate the Chinese New Year exchange hongbao, which are red envelopes meant to keep bad spirits away and have money tucked inside as gifts in an even denomination. The Japanese make up pretty bento boxes of fancy foods and pickles to give to family and friends. The boxes are typically wooden with a lacquer finish. On Chinese New Year, the Japanese visit their neighbors, too, and wish them well.
Some feng-shui masters consider that since the horse is wooden, this signifies conflicts, disasters, record high temperatures, an economic chill in Asia and other dark predictions.
In inner Mongolia, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an appearance to wish the celebrating Chinese good health and happiness. The Mongolian people were attending a Lunar New Year’s Eve winter fair.
Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif., is celebrating the Chinese New Year by adding special events, including a horse named Finn, who will represent the year of the horse. He will be wearing a special saddle blanket that’s adorned with the Chinese symbol for good fortune. Disneyland will have festivities for the Happy Lunar New Year this weekend.
Disney park guests will be able to have their picture taken with Finn and his special lucky saddle. Finn comes from Disneyland’s Circle D Ranch. There will even be a special snack available, called Year of the Horse sourdough bread.
The Chinese zodiac is predicting that money and health will be unstable this year, and that feast and famine may be commonplace. Health will be affected because the zodiac shows that the god, Taisui, will be offended. As a result some may experience discomforts and irritations of the skin. Women are told to be careful with their urinary system, and males should take care of their stomachs by not eating too much at meals.
One of the side stories of China’s Lunar New Year celebrations is the pollution levels. The bad quality of the air means that in some areas fireworks were restricted. Beijing, which has been dealing with air pollution warnings recently, experienced a slump in the sales of fireworks this new year. City officials cut licensed fireworks sellers by 12 percent. It was reported, however, that the fire and smoke were not as caustic as last year’s count of 1000 micrograms of particulate per cubic meter. Instead, there was a measure of 140-160.
Transportation hubs were busy as people, including 245 million migrant workers, crammed planes, trains and buses to return to their hometowns in what is the world’s largest annual human migration. The Chinese New Year festivities are the most important of the year, and not to be missed.
By Lisa M Pickering