Let us all welcome in the Year of the Ox!
Dr. Thomas Kouo, DAOM, L.Ac., Dipl.OM
The Chinese week-long Spring Festival follows the lunar calendar and a twelve animal cycle which help to describe the nature of the upcoming year. Three themes revolve around this holiday, happiness, health, and fortune. In America, the holiday has come to be known as “Chinese New Year”, to the Chinese, it is simply known as the New Year (much like food in China is known simply as food). My family in Beijing largely refers to this holiday as “the Spring Festival” while my family in Taiwan refers to the holiday as “New Year”. They don’t even agree on that.
As a child, one of the things I looked forward to most was receiving red envelopes (hóngbāo) from my parents and friends of the family. Sometimes the envelope had a fifty cent piece or dollar coin in it (this was a long time ago…kids these days are getting $20 or more in their envelopes!), or some little treasure that was very exciting to find. Although I now have my own family and no longer receive the envelopes, it is so much fun to see the same excitement I felt in the faces of my kids when they receive theirs. The envelopes are small and red and sometimes have the character 福 fú printed on it. This character, meaning luck is also found on diamond shaped pieces of paper that are posted around in the rooms around the house. The odd thing is that it is typically printed or hung upside down. This is done because the Chinese word Dao can mean both “arrive” and “upside down” (the characters are the same except for an extra Ren radical in the “upside down” character). This has been used to imagine that an upside down luck Chinese character is pouring luck downwards on us giving us good fortune for the new year.
This year is the year of the Metal Ox. The ox, valued for its hardworking nature in farming carries the characteristics of honesty, humility, hardworking, and positivity in demeanor. It is a time for practicality and logical thought and actions. The ox is known as a builder. Being a metal year, the Autumn of 2021 should hold some significance. Also, metal signifies the lungs so we must hold high the protecting and fortifying of the lungs this year. This year has all of the characteristics of a year of healing and hard work. I hope that this year of the metal ox brings you much happiness, good health, and fortune. It is a time to build, think, and place ourselves in positions to let that good luck pour down and work some wonders!
Happy Lunar New Year!