Happy New Year!Gong Xi Fa Cai!Gong Hey Fat Choy!

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Happy New Year!Gong Xi Fa Cai!Gong Hey Fat Choy!

New Year redux by John CopelandDownloadedFile
Happy New Year, again!  In 2014, we celebrated New Years on January 1st and now on the last day of January, it is New Years once again – Chinese New Year.  Today, January 31st the Lunar New Year.  It is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.  Only, in much of Asia it is not 2014, according to the Chinese calendar it is the year 4712.
In cities, towns and villages across China, one-fifth of the world’s population is welcoming the Year of the Horse.  It is the biggest festival of the year in China, and many other Asian nations.  Taiwan, Bhutan, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan will all be celebrating the Lunar New Year.
  images-2The Lunar New Year is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other’s homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year’s Eve.  At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children “lucky money” in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The fireworks, which are being forgone in most of China this year because of air pollution are rooted in a similar ancient custom. In ancient times, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.
In China, and many other Asian nations, months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the the New Moon.  New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month (the New Moon) and continue until the fifteenth day, when the moon is full.
Today, in China and other Asian nations, the familiar Gregorian calendar, we use in western culture is also used for day-to-day life. But, the lunisolar calendar continues to be used to mark traditional holidays such as the New Year and the fall moon festival. It’s also used astrologically to select favorable dates for weddings and other special events.
The Lunar New Year has the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2697 BCE, when the Chinese Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the zodiac. The Chinese calendar is based on a complex lunisolar calendar system that uses both lunar and solar cycles to mark time. And there are several different symbolic cycles within the calendar, used in Chinese astrology, that make it an intricate and complex measurement of time.
The short explanation is that the Lunar New Year falls on the second New Moon after the winter solstice.  It is based strictly on astronomical observations, and has nothing to do with the Pope, emperors, animals or myths. Due to its scientific and mathematical nature, the Chinese calendar allows us to easily and precisely calculate backward or forward for thousands of years.
This system is extremely practical. A child does not have to learn a new answer to the question, “How old are you?” in each new year. Old people often lose track of their age, because they are rarely asked about their present age. Every one just has to remember that he or she was born in the “Year of the Dog” or whatever.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the twelve years after an animal. Legend has it that Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he died. Only twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality, saying: “This is the animal that hides in your heart.” 2014 is the Year of the Horse.  The Wood Horse to be exact.
Like any fresh start of a year, questions abound about wealth, health and matters of the heart.
For many in China, Feng Shui masters and their astrological readings and predictions are merely a fun activity to pass the time. But for the superstitious, horoscope experts provide important guidance for the coming year.
Here in the Santa Ynez Valley, with our incredible variety of horses that live here, along with all our equestrian activities, the Year of the Horse is particularly fitting.  People born in the year of the horse are said to be a bit like horses: animated, active and energetic – they love being in a crowd. They are quick to learn independence – foals can walk minutes after birth – and they have a straightforward and positive attitude towards life. They are known for their communication skills and are exceedingly witty.
images-1In Chinese astrology, the Horse year is considered a fortunate year that brings luck and good things. The Horse has supernatural powers, is heroic, strong, and can even fly!  A white celestial cloud Horse is sacred to the Chinese Goddess Kwan Yin. Her white Horse flies through the heavens, bringing peace and blessings.  The Horse is a hero in China because important battles were won due to the power and strength of the Horse.
The Horse year is about freedom, returning to nature, and enjoying life and life’s adventures. The Horse has a refined instinct that acts fast, on the spot, unlike Horse’s opposite the Rat who thinks and plans before acting. The time for pondering and planning was 2013, the Snake year.  The Horse year is time to act fast, buy that home, launch that business, travel the world, make a big purchase, strive for a promotion at work, have a breakthrough – take a leap and fly. If it’s right, then there’s nothing to think about. Just follow your instincts.
However, denial that there is a problem is another Horse trait. It’s easier to move on to the next adventure than face reality or clean up a mess. So don’t ignore details this year while being an optimist that things will all just work out on their own.
Learn from what you see around you. You don’t have to act, but you do have to know. In the year of the Horse, you can let others lead the way then follow in the footsteps of their success – but you’ll have to act fast.  The Horse, Tiger, Dog, or Sheep benefit the most from Horse’s strong and spirited actions.images-3
For those not born on a horse year, the year ahead will bring health and prosperity. It is said to be an excellent time to travel, as the next 12 months will bring good luck.
And to finish up, how did the Chinese Zodiac become named after animals?  Well, tradition says that the Jade Emperor, or Emperor of Heaven summoned all the animals of the Earth, and he gave a year to each of the first 12 animals to arrive.
When the cat heard the news, he told rat about it and the two animals decided to go together the next day. However, the next morning the rat did not wake up the cat. Therefore, the cat could not make it to the gathering on time and did not get a year. This is why there is no year of the cat and is the reason why cats hunt rats.
Still, the rat made it first to the assembly and received the first year. The Year of the Rat is the start of the Chinese Zodiac Cycle – which repeats every 12 years. The rat used a lot of trickery to arrive first. He tricked the ox to let him ride on its head. The ox agreed and they went together. Just when they were about to reach to the assembly the clever rat jumped off the ox’s head and passed through the entrance gate first. The Ox was second followed by the Tiger and the Rabbit.
The Dragon, even though it was the largest, fastest and most powerful animal of creation, arrived fifth because it stopped along the way to make rain for the farmers and to help the Rabbit cross the river that all animals had to cross to arrive at the Emperor’s palace.
The Dragon was follow by the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Pig.
But only twelve animals came to offer Buddha farewell and as a token of appreciation he named a year after each of the twelve animals in the order they arrived. In this way each year got linked with an animal. People born in that year are believed to share different traits.
The Year of the Horse has arrived. So welcome the Horse and have a very prosperous New Year ahead.
Happy New Year.
Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)

John Copeland
Rancho Olivos
2390 N. Refugio Rd.
Santa Ynez, CA 93460


Dr. Eric P. Dahlstrom, D.C., L.Ac.
Santa Monica Healing Arts
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