For me, growing up Chinese American, the Chinese New Year was always one of my favorite holidays—and one I had a great sense of joy around sharing. Red decorations strewn everywhere, firecrackers popping, smells of delicious foods wafting in streets filled with people laughing, celebrating, and singing—that was the most wonderful time of my year. I remember running from adult to adult with my hands extended, saying giddly, “Xing Nian Kuai Le! Hong Bao Na Lai!” as I received red envelopes filled with a little cash.
In the Chinese culture—as well as many other Asian cultures—Chinese New Year represents a time of deep connection, reflection, gratitude, and optimism. The Chinese have long followed the lunar calendar, which is why the New Year, which falls on the first New Moon of the new lunar calendar, varies by a few weeks between late January and mid-February, and doesn’t coincide with the western world’s New Year celebration on January 1st.
What is Chinese New Year?
Spread over the course of 15 days, with the final celebration ending on the Full Moon, Chinese New Year is filled with ritual. Each day represents a new task and space for reflection and appreciation. For this reason, it is such a wonderful time to be inspired by our own practices, harnessing the energy of the Chinese New Year to find more clarity, connection, and direction.
According to the legend I learned growing up, there was great argument between the great animals of the kingdom as to who was the greatest. The squabbling was so bad that finally the great Emperor decided to have a race over a stretch of terrain to determine who actually was the greatest. Thirteen animals all joined in, including the Cat, and off they went over land, air, and water, racing for the coveted spot of first place. There are great tales and lessons of friendship, working together, shrewdness, deceit, confidence, and self-doubt woven into the stories of each animal as they made their way to the finish line—wise tales of character and about the choices we make.
Alas, only 12 animals crossed the finish line, their order representing the order of the 12 subsequent years of the Chinese Zodiac. The Cat though, never made it, as it was sabotaged by the Rat at the river and drowned, creating the legend of why cats then forever hunted mice—and also offering a cautionary tale of discernment.
This is the Year Of The Pig, the 12th and final zodiac animal, and one that is considered quite auspicious with luck, overall good fortune, wealth, honesty, and general prosperity. It is a great year to see your planted seeds and hard work yield results—or, it’s a good time to get started on those dreams you’ve put on hold.
Along with the animals, the Chinese have always included the elements in each zodiac, which adds additional energy and representation. This year is Earth. After an intense two years, this new energy gives us a chance to rest and digest, even carving out much needed space to reflect and make sense of the intense energy changes we have experienced around the world.
The Pig is a friendly animal that will inspire us to build bridges, not walls, and to start to really take care of ourselves from the inside out. Being gentle to ourselves and others is key this year. I created this Year of the Earth Pig flow to help you press the re-set button—to clean up, clear out, release what no longer serves you, and rest deeply. May this Chinese New Year help you welcome in a change of pace—and space for a year filled with luck, fortune, self-care, and true alignment with your life’s purpose.
See also 18 Reasons to Practice Self-Care