Happy New Year of the Horse! Parades and festivals throughout the world are held for weeks in a celebration now many thousands of years old. Scholars estimate the Chinese calendar began during the reign of Huangdi translating the year 2014 into “chinese year” number 4,712. Or some say 4,711, or could be 4,651, but who’s counting. It’s a lot of years.
According to my Aunties, this year is a good sign for newborns and others born as Fire signs. The Horse was not a beast of burden like the loyal hard working Ox. The Horse was revered. People born under this sign can be quick to succeed, often in the public eye, and many become leaders. Visit your Chinatown this year to put a little money in the mouth of a dragon for good luck and enjoy the food and festivities. In Honolulu, today is your last chance to enjoy the public celebration. 10a – 10p at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, $4 parking in garage. Open to public, free entertainment, food booths, packed restaurants so make reservations.
For the curious, the meaning behind all the noise, crashing cymbals, red banners, red clothing, the furious lion or dragon dance — all of this comes from Chinese mythology and the story of the big bad Nian ( 年兽) a beast who lives under the sea or in the mountains, so he’s everywhere. Once each spring, on or about this time of year, the Nian comes out of hiding to attack innocent residents and has a preference for children. Nian are supposedly very sensitive to loud noises and they fear the color red. Yes, a very odd and neurotic monster. So the Lion Dance has become a long tradition, taken from the tale of a Nian’s attack on a small village. After the attack, the villagers decided that they would not succumb to his intimidation so the next year they used firecrackers, loud drumming, banging of plates and bowls , and everyone was dressed in red robes. The big bad Nian never appeared in the village again but there are those who believe he still exists.
Kung Hee Fat Choy! Happy New Year of the Horse!