18 February 2007

Happy Chinese New Year (Sunday)

"Happy New Year, now give me a red envelope."

Y'all know I'm not Chinese, but I like Chinese people, Americanized Chinese Food, Feng Shui, bento, Buddha, rice, the color red, bamboo, paper lanterns, dragons, watercolor, inari maki and lettering.

My 1/2 bath on the main floor is decorated with Asian flare: the walls & ceiling are painted a dark chocolate brown, a golden wooden Buddha sits in the corner on the floor, a small ornate stool waits under the sink for the vertically challenged, smooth stones rest in the bowl of the sink with handmade soaps settled within, matchstick blinds are attached along the 1/2 bottom of the walls running up and down, a hundred year old handmade apron from China (thanks Sandra) hangs above the toilet, 6 votive candles rest patiently upon the shelf next to a miniature Chinese plate (thanks Steph) and brown textured candles. A giant painted fan from San Fransisco in muted colors of green, beige and gray spreads along the largest wall (Buddist friends of mine told me the writing on the fan means prosperity, good luck and peace). According to Wikipedia, my Chinese Zodiac animal is the Boar (good thing, because I like pork). I knew that from the first time I met my bio-dad, Gary, and his wife, Jo, 10 years ago. We went to a museum in Portland that had Asian artifacts on display. They bought me a small card that identified my Zodiac according to my birthdate. A couple years ago when vacationing on the Oregon coast (I love it there), I came across a solitary urban-style necklace with my Zodiac on it that now hangs in my bathroom when I'm not wearing it. Think I'll have to put it on today.

According to customary superstition, the Pig type is usually an honest, straightforward and patient person (I don't know about 'patient' but the rest is certainly true). They are a modest, shy character (not so much) who prefers to work quietly behind the scenes (believe it or not, I do). When others despair, they are often there to offer support (mm-hm). This type of person is reserved with those they do not know too well (wish that were true), but as time passes and they gain confidence, those around them may discover a lively and warm-hearted person (and more tender-hearted than anyone realizes) behind that mask of aloofness. Despite those born in the year of pig having a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, they have few close friends who understand them and share their inner thoughts and feelings (this is COMPLETELY true, came to that conclusion just recently). It is easy to put trust in pig type; they won't let you down and will never even attempt to do so (true dat). Such people simply want to do everything right according to social norms ('want' being the active word).

Also according to customary superstition, that these people are not vengeful creatures (I don't like to spread bad kharma because it'll just bounce right back atcha). If someone tries to take advantage of them, the pig type tend to withdraw to reflect on the problem and protect themselves (because nobody else can do it for me). All they need in such situations is a little time (since I don't often use a filter; gotta work on that) to find a constructive way to respond (I can come up with something clever). The people of the pig type are conservative creatures of habit. They dislike being made to travel too far from familiar surroundings (I like precise directions and don't like getting lost; I like traveling by air to visit friends), unless it is a trip to the countryside (wouldn't it be lovely to have a place in the English countryside?). They love nature and are never happier than when they are out somewhere, far from the city (sans TV, cell phones, computers but I MUST have my camera; I [heart] the sound of nature... wind through the trees, birds chirping, small animals scattering through the forest floor and water flowing and bubbly).

There is a tolerant (sometimes TOO much) and peaceful side to the character of Pig types. Such people are never afraid to allow others their freedom of expression (who am I to tell people how to behave?); they do not want to cause arguments and if there is any way to avoid arguing, they will probably take this option (no matter which 'side' I'm on, I do enjoy playing devils advocate so that both sides are represented fairly - many times both sides are right in their own way). They are not weak, however, and if the situation forces them to fight these people will rise to the occasion, whether it is to defend themselves or those close to them (I probably defend others more than myself; I can take the heat because I am confident but don't like seeing others put down). People of the Boar type are the most admired by others ('admired'?). Red Packets (I like this custom) Traditionally, red packets are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is common for adults to give red packets to children. Red packets are also known as 压岁钱 (Ya Sui Qian, literally, age suppressing money) during this period.

The red envelopes always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. The amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals (白金 : Bai Jin). Since the number 4 is considered bad luck, money in the red envelopes never adds up to $4. However, the number 6 is considered lucky, and $6 is commonly found in the red envelopes. Click here for more information on the Chinese New Year.


Lyle said...

We are tyring to have some extra fun this year by teaching our kids about the Chinese new year.

tiff-fay-fay said...

OK So I'm a Hare. This is what it says about that according to About.com, which basically translates into you & i are a "match" :) What do you think?? --

Persons born in the Year of the Hare are talented and ambitious. They are popular with anybody and good entertainers which often makes them the centre of attention. Even though they are liked they are rather pessimistic, insecure and are afraid of changes. They almost never lose their temper and are very good-natured. In the business world however they are smart and make the right decisions according to instinct. Nevertheless they are no gamblers. Hares are known for their sense of art and for that reason often have beautiful homes. They match persons born in the Year of the Sheep, Pig or Dog.

~j. said...

Awesome. Thanks for that link! I knew about the red envelopes, but didn't know what they were for. And I didn't know you like nature so much.

I may put up my own info on my blog...it's a good idea.

tiff -- talented, good-natured, smart in the business world, sense of art...uh, yes, yes, all those things yes.

Lucky Red Hen said...

Tiff... we are DEFINITELY a match ;o)

Julie said...

I've always wondered what I am. Now I'll have to go check it out. I'm glad to finally understand the whole red envelope thing.

Thanks again for the par-tay on Saturday. It was nice to get away and be with grownups for a while.

luckyzmom said...

I am a wood rooster, your Dad a water dragon and your brother an earth horse. One year I bought us all Chinese character charm necklaces at Fred Meyer.

Your Lisa said...

I'm a FIRE SNAKE! Doesn't that make me sound vicious? I kinda like that.

I went to the Chinese New Year festival here on Saturday. I received a red envelope, but now I realize I was jipped on the cash because I only got a piece of chocolate. We also went to a great dim sum place and up to Pike Place for donuts and gelato, mmmmm. It was a BEAUTIFUL spring-like day. You're missing out.

b. said...

Thanks! I had fun with the kids checking us all out! I am a fire horse...whatever.

Queen Scarlett said...

Reason to love being a kid...red envelopes... we also bowed to every person that gave us one... respect.

I want to see a picture of your gorgeous bathroom. Sounds so lovely.

...and about the number 4 ...it sounds like the word death... clocks are bad luck too...so if you really disliked someone...you'd give them 4 clocks. ;-)

Lucky Red Hen said...

Queen Scarlet... thanks for the info - I love to learn the different meanings.

Serena said...

I'm year of the boar too!