January

1 2 3 9

This point in the agricultural calendar is marked by the ploughing of the soil to allow it to prepare for the seed, and any energy work performed now is all about groundwork. The surface of the earth appears barren, but the life force is stirring beneath. Ask yourself what you need to prepare in order to plant the seeds of your dreams this year.

The Celtic fire festival of Imbolc (2 February) falls in the Rowan Moon, lending this time associations with the goddess Brigid to whom the festivities are dedicated. This is the perfect time to perform initiations and for spells of power and success.

  • Dates: January 21 thru February 17
  • Celtic Name: Luis
  • Language of Flowers: Prudence
  • Qualities: protection, magical, healing, light, spring,
  • Color: White
  • Themes: Hearth and Home, Family, Personal Power, Spirituality, Success, Protection.

Known as the Bride, Brigid represents the mother of the new-born Sun and all candle energy work is sacred to her. Like the snowdrops peeking out of the ground to meet the goddess, white is a powerful symbol during this month.

During the Rowan Moon wear white to cast energy, use white candles and feast on white foods to attune to the season. Begin spring cleaning now. As the light increases, you will need to clear out your clutter with all your energy to make way for new growth. Have a Rowan Moon dinner party and ask your guests to wear white, dine by candlelight and eat seeds such as beans, pulses and nuts.

Look for the first snowdrops of the season and make a wish when you see one. Snowdrops hold the potential of spring. Tie a white ribbon on a rowan tree while saying the names of those you love. The tree will send out healing vibrations to them.

Known by the Celts as Luis (pronounced loush), the Rowan is associated with astral travel, personal power, and success. A charm carved into a bit of a Rowan twig will protect the wearer from harm. The Norsemen were known to have used Rowan branches as rune staves of protection. In some countries, Rowan is planted in graveyards to prevent the dead from lingering around too long.

Rowan the Thinker

Rowan is the philosophical sign of the Celtic zodiac. People born under this Celtic tree astrology sign tend to be keen-minded visionaries, with creative thoughts and high ideals. They tend to be aloof and often feel like other people don’t understand them. However, the Rowan signs are full of energy and devotion and are passionate when it comes to persuasion. The Rowan from the Celtic tree horoscope is compatible with the Ivy and Hawthorn signs.

The rowan tree is known for balance, clarity, vision, protection, divination, and transformation. For those who believe that the trees speak to us when we listen with complete silence, the rowan tree whispers encouragement to look deeper, look beyond the focus of your worldly eyesight to go beyond the physical world and engage with worlds beyond that which we are comfortable with.

Another amazing lesson to be found in the rowan tree comes from observing where they grow and how determined they are to survive, even at times sprouting up within other trees. Some see this as an analogy for us to find connections in unexpected places.

Rowan Magick and Lore

The beautiful rowan is one of our most beautiful and colorful trees – with frothy white blossoms in spring, delicate feathered leaves, and colorful red autumn berries. It’s also traditionally considered as one of most magical trees!

The Druids believed the rowan tree contained a spirit that had secret knowledge of immortality and personal freedom. In Norse mythical tales, it’s said that the rowan saved the life of the god Thor as he was being swept away in the river Vimur – he caught hold of a rowan tree on the bank and pulled himself to safety.

In ancient Celtic mythology, rowan was considered as the mythical ‘tree of life’ – the tree of life bears life-giving fruit each month and at the quarter of the year. The magical berries of the tree could sustain, heal, and prolong life.

Icelandic myth gives the rowan tree a connection with light – there, the rowan is a tree of the winter solstice. The frost glistening on midwinter rowan trees in moonlight fills these magical trees with tiny stars and links to ancient traditions of magical ‘moon trees’ decorated with lights (stars). The star-lights in the rowan bring the light energy of the spirit of the returning year in that important solstice moment of darkness as the year turns from darkening to lightening.

The traditions tell of a special star glowing atop the rowan tree – an ancient rite that’s surely influences our modern tradition for topping our own winter solstice trees (Christmas trees) with a star.

A Rowan Witch Cross

This protection charm represents the waxing energies of the Sun and can be hung in the home to attract good luck.

Collect together two straight sticks of rowan wood. Remember to leave an offering of thanks on a breach, such as a strand of hair, or thread or ribbon.

Hold the sticks in a cross and say,

“Spirits of this wood,
I bring you together for the good of all.”

Now bind the sticks into an equal-armed cross and secure them with red thread. As you do this visualize a powerful white light.

Hold the charm up to the Sun and say:

“Behold the Wheel of Brighid,
Blessed be.”

Sources:

St. Basil’s Day, January 1st, commemorates the day in which (it’s believed) Basil of Caesarea died. The Festival of Saint Basil is the Greek New Year.

In Greek tradition, Basil brings gifts to children every January 1. Children leave their shoes by the fireplace in hopes that St. Basil will fill them with gifts. A large feast is prepared, the larger the luckier the year will be. Pork is usually the main dish.  It is customary on his feast day to visit the homes of friends and relatives, to sing New Year’s carols, and to set an extra place at the table for Saint Basil.

Traditionally Vasilopita or Vaselopita, a special bread or cake, is baked on St. Basil’s Day Eve, and served at midnight. The cake is handed out in a particular order. The first piece is for the remembrance of St. Basil and the second is for the household. Those pieces are taken to the church to be blessed, then given to the poor. The rest of the slices are distributed from the eldest member of the household to the youngest.

A coin or trinket is hidden inside the cake, and the person who gets the piece with the hidden treasure will have luck in the coming year.

Vasilopita | St. Basil’s Bread

Make sure everyone knows a quarter is hidden in the cake so they search for it and do not choke on it.

  • 1 cup butter, unsalted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • a clean quarter

Preheat oven to 350F. Generously grease a 10-inch round cake pan. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until mealy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, milk, lemon juice, and zests. Mix into the batter, then pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts and sugar. Bake 40-45 minutes. Gently push a quarter into the cake. Cool 10 minutes. Invert cake onto platter. Serve warm.

A Feast Day Prayer to Saint Basil

Saint Basil, O great follower of God, help all as well as me. Defender of orthodoxy, defend us too. Great follower of God, pray to him for all your people, as well as for unworthy me. Strong knight and leader of Ostrog, save us from the seen and unseen. Raised by Serbian soil to be the light in front of God, be our light and light up our road, and make the darkness disappear.

With prayer and tears you have warmed the cold cliffs of Ostrog, please warm our hearts with God’s spirit, so we can be saved. From all corners of the world to your grave come the weak and the ill, and you helped them, got rid of their demons as well as the devil, and healed their souls and bodies.

Please continue to help, the baptized and the nonbaptized, everybody and me as well. You brought peace to fighting brothers, please continue to bring peace, help the divided, make the sad happy, calm the stubborn, heal the sick. Saint Basil, O miracle worker, father of our spirit, listen and hear your children’s spirits in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

About Saint Basil

Basil, being born into a wealthy family, gave away all his possessions to the poor, the underprivileged, those in need, and children. For Greeks and others in the Orthodox tradition, Basil is the saint associated with Santa Claus as opposed to the western tradition of St Nicholas

St. Basil, also called Saint Basil the Great, is one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church and a forefather of the Greek Orthodox Church. St. Basil was born in the year 329 or 330 and died in the year 379.  He is the Patron of Russia, Cappadocia, hospital administrators, reformers, monks, education, exorcism, and liturgists.

Basil’s life changed radically after he encountered Eustathius of Sebaste, a charismatic bishop and ascetic. Abandoning his legal and teaching career, Basil devoted his life to God. In a letter he described his spiritual awakening:

I had wasted much time on follies and spent nearly all of my youth in vain labors, and devotion to the teachings of a wisdom that God had made foolish. Suddenly, I awoke as out of a deep sleep. I beheld the wonderful light of the Gospel truth, and I recognized the nothingness of the wisdom of the princes of this world. 

Hot-blooded and somewhat imperious, Basil was also generous and sympathetic. He personally organized a soup kitchen and distributed food to the poor during a famine following a drought. He gave away his personal family inheritance to benefit the poor of his diocese.

His letters show that he actively worked to reform thieves and prostitutes. They also show him encouraging his clergy not to be tempted by wealth or the comparatively easy life of a priest, and that he personally took care in selecting worthy candidates for holy orders. He also had the courage to criticize public officials who failed in their duty of administering justice. At the same time, he preached every morning and evening in his own church to large congregations.

In addition to all the above, he built a large complex just outside Caesarea, called the Basiliad,  which included a poorhouse, hospice, and hospital, and was compared by Gregory of Nazianzus to the wonders of the world.

His three hundred letters reveal a rich and observant nature, which, despite the troubles of ill-health and ecclesiastical unrest, remained optimistic, tender and even playful. His principal efforts as a reformer were directed towards the improvement of the liturgy, and the reformation of the monastic institutions of the East.

There are numerous relics of Basil throughout the world. One of the most important is his head, which is preserved to this day at the monastery of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos in Greece. The mythical sword Durandal is said to contain some of Basil’s blood.

Some Great St Basil Quotes

I really love some of these quotes. They are surprisingly applicable to modern life. Enjoy!

Alternative St Basil Feast Days

According to some sources, Basil died on January 1, and the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day together with that of the Feast of the Circumcision on that day. This was also the day on which the General Roman Calendar celebrated it at first; but in the 13th-century it was moved to June 14, a date believed to be that of his ordination as bishop, and it remained on that date until the 1969 revision of the calendar, which moved it to January 2 (rather than January 1) because the latter date is occupied by the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

On January 2 Saint Basil is celebrated together with Saint Gregory Nazianzen. Some traditionalist Catholics continue to observe pre-1970 calendars.

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod commemorates Basil, along with Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa on January 10.

The Church of England celebrates Saint Basil’s feast on January 2, but the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada celebrate it on June 14.

In the Byzantine Rite, January 30 is the Synaxis of the Three Holy Hierarchs, in honor of Saint Basil, Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria celebrates the feast day of Saint Basil on the 6th of Tobi (6th of Terr on the Ethiopian calendar of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church). At present, this corresponds to January 14, January 15 during leap year.

Sources:

There is a lot to celebrate in January. This is a list of pretty much everything that goes on during this first month of the year. Many of these dates change from year to year. The days that change are marked with this » symbol.

Astronomical Events

Astrological Events

Depending on which astrological system you adhere to, these are the signs that show up in January of 2021. Be aware that some of these dates will vary from year to year. Unlike the Sun signs which might just shift by 1 or 2 days, the dates of the various Moon signs will vary widely from year to year. The same holds true for the Chinese Zodiac. The Celtic Tree Signs are based on an arbitrary system and stay the same from year to year.

Western Astrology

The January Sun begins in Capricorn and finishes up in Aquarius:

The January 2021 Moon cycles through the signs as follows. You will notice that the Moon might begin the day in one sign and by the end of the day may have moved into another sign, so timing matters if you are wanting to be precise:

The Celtic Tree Signs in January:
The Alternative Celtic Zodiac is as follows:
  • Apple: Dec 22 – Jan 1
  • Fir: Jan 2 – Jan 11
  • Elm: Jan 12 – Jan 22
  • Cypress: Jan 23 – Jan 31
The Chinese Calendar and Zodiac

According to the Chinese Zodiac we are currently in the Year of the Rat. Each Moon is also assigned a specific animal. Here’s what shows up in January 2021.

  • Rat: Dec 7 – Jan 4 (Stem Branch Calendar)
  • Rat: Dec 15 – Jan 12  (Lunar Calendar – 11th Lunar Month)
  • Cow: Jan 5 – Feb  2 (Stem Branch Calendar)
  • Cow: Jan 13 – Feb 12 (Lunar Calendar – 12th Lunar Month)

Note: The traditional Chinese Astrology birth chart is built by the Chinese Stem Branch Calendar, not the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which I think is really confusing.  Because of a difference in time zones, the lunar months will have different pattern between China and the USA.

Lucky and Unlucky Days

You might want to plan moving, traveling, major purchases, court dates, and weddings around these dates, avoiding the unlucky days and utilizing the lucky ones. Interestingly, the 1st and the 2nd are both lucky and unlucky.

  • These are the lucky days in January:
    1, 2, 15, 26, 27 and 28.
  • These are the unlucky days in January:
    1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 20 and 21.

Fatal Days

Of this first month the opening day
And seventh, like a sword will slay.

January Lore and General Info:

Holidays and Holy Days

Many of the holidays begin on the eve of the night before and end on the eve of the day of. It’s also important to remember that the dates of archaic festivals and feast days may vary widely depending on the source.

January 1

  • 1: New Year’s Day
  • 1: Shichi Fukujin – Seven Deities of Luck Celebration
  • 1: Gantan-sai – Shinto New Year Holy Day, see also Shogatsu
  • 1: Ethics Day – Day to commit to cultivating personal honor.
  • 1: Taos Pueblo Turtle Dance
  • 1: Apple Gifting Day
  • 1: Daisy Day
  • 1 thru 3: Kalends of January
  • 1 thru 4: Tewa Turtle Dance – celebrating life and the first Creation, when Sky Father embraced Earth Mother and all life was conceived.
  • 1 thru 6: Shogatsu/Shinto New Year’s Festival – The Kami (Nature Spirits) of the four directions are honored, and prayers for happiness, good health, and prosperity are made.

January 2

January 3

  • 3: Festival of Pax – alternative date Jan 30
  • 3: Snow Day

January 4

January 5

January 6

January 7

  • 7: Russian Christmas
  • 7: Nativity of Christ
  • 7: Genna – Ethiopian Christmas
  • 7: Koshogatsu – Shinto rite honoring Goddess Izanami, partner of God Izanagi.
  • 7: Feast of Sekhmet – Egyptian New Year’s Day (alternative date Aug 7)

January 8

January 9

January 10

  • 10: Geraint’s Day (Welsh)

January 11

January 12

January 13

  • 13 thru 25: Mid Winter Blot (Midvetr, Midvetrarblot, Jordblot, Thorrablot, Freyrblot) – Old Norse Mid Winter Feast.

January 14

January 15

January 16

January 17

January 19

January 20

  • 20: World Religions Day
  • 20 » Severe Cold begins (Chinese Farmer’s Calendar)
  • 20 » Bodhi Day

January 21

  • 21 thru 23: Mahayana New Year

January 22

January 24

January 25

January 27

  • 27 thru 28 » Tu B’shvat – New Year for Trees
  • 27 thru Feb 3: Powamu Festival (Hopi) – dates vary, an 8 day festival held around the end of January or beginning of February

January 28

January 29

  • 29: Gamelion Noumenia – Old Greek festival honoring all the Gods and Goddesses.
  • 29: Red Carnation Day

January 30

  • 30: Up Helly Aa – Scottish Viking celebration
  • 30 » Saraswati Day (Bali), in honor of Batari Dewi Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. No reading or writing is allowed on this day, books are taken to the goddess to be blessed.
  • 30 thru 31: Feast of the Charities – dates vary widely also listed as  Jan 17 – 18, Apr 18 – 19, May 26, Jul 9 – 10, or Oct 13.
  • 30 thru Feb. 2: Februalia

January 31

  • 31: Disfest/Disablot
  • 31 » Banyu Pinaruh – Balinese go, at dawn, to beaches, rivers or other water sources, to pray for wisdom and to purify themselves.
  • 31 thru Feb 3: Old European Lunar New Year – Celebration of the Triple Goddess (Goddess of the Moon and the Seasons) being transformed from the Crone into the Virgin; celebrated with ritual bathing of divine images.
  • 31 thru Feb 8: Navajo Sing – Festival in preparation for the coming agricultural season; celebrated with prayer, chanting, dancing, and healing.

 

Saint Days

There is a surprising amount of magick associated with Saint days This is a very short list of the Saint days in January, there are many many more. As time goes by I may end up listing them all, but for now, this is what I have.

Recipes For January

Many seasonal recipes, including recipes for new and full moon ceremonies, ancient Greek and Roman holidays, Asian festivals and etc can be found here: Seasonal Recipes.

Notes:

Any January lore, almanac, astrological, and celebration dates that have been shared after this post was published can be found by searching the January posts to see what’s new.

A lot of work went into this post. It was compiled from various sources by Shirley Twofeathers for The Pagan Calendar, you may repost and share without karmic repercussions, but only if you give me credit and a link back to this website. Blessed be.

The first of the 13 tree months of the Celtic calendar is the month of the Birch Moon. It begins just after Yuletide, and runs through most of January.

Starting just after the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year – the month of the Birch Moon marks the period of the year when the hours of daylight start to increase over the hours of darkness. Its associated color is flame red. From this comes the red candles that we burn at Yuletide. The birch is a popular Yule log, clearing the Old Year away to make way for the new.

  • Dates: December 24 thru January 20
  • Celtic Name: Beith, Beth
  • Language of Flowers: Meekness
  • Color: Red
  • Themes: New Endeavors, Creativity, Fertility, Healing, Protection.

The Birch Moon is a time of rebirth and regeneration. As the Solstice passes, it is time to look towards the light once more. When a forested area burns, Birch is the first tree to grow back. The Celtic name for this month is Beth, pronounced beh.

Workings done in this month add momentum and a bit of extra “oomph” to new endeavors. The Birch is also associated with magick done for creativity and fertility, as well as healing and protection. Tie a red ribbon around the trunk of a Birch tree to ward off negative energy. Hang Birch twigs over a cradle to protect a newborn from psychic harm. Use Birch bark as magical parchment to keep writings safe.

Beth, the Birch month, is a time of regeneration and new projects. This is the perfect time to go back to the light once more as the Sun makes a comeback. The Birch tree is the first tree to grow back after a forest fire. This month is the best for spells related to creativity, healing, protection, and fertility.

Birch the Achiever

If you were born in the month of the birch, you probably have a fresh and unusual outlook on life. People born under this Celtic tree astrology sign tend to be highly driven and are always full of zeal and ambition. They always want more and try to reach new horizons and expand their knowledge.

Some of the characteristics attributed to the Birch sign are tolerance, toughness, and leadership. The Birch signs can brighten a room with their smile and quickly charm other people. This sign of the Celtic zodiac is compatible with the Vine and Willow signs.

Throughout history the birch tree was known for it’s adaptability, sustaining itself in even the harshest of conditions. It is the first tree to sprout leaves after the winter and the first to regrow after fire or other natural disaster. Some liken it to the pioneer spirit, courageously taking root in harsh and unknown lands. It is a symbol of renewal at the highest level and demonstrates a fierce and unfailing ability to not only survive, but also to prosper and multiply.

People born under this Druid zodiac sign may exhibit many of the characteristics of the tree such as strength, tenacity, resilience, stability and perseverance.

Birch Magick and Lore

Birch is one of our most beautiful native British trees and one of the most mystical! Birch is often seen as a ‘pioneer tree.’ It was the first tree to start to recolonize the land after the last Ice Age and is, even now, often the first to start to grow on cleared lands or wastelands…

And it provides nourishment for the plants and trees that come after to allow the natural ecosystem to regrow. ​Because of this, birch is often associated with renewal and new beginnings.

In the Tartar culture, the birch tree stands at the centre of the world. The Siberian Buryat people name birch ‘the guardian of the door’ and believe that the birch can provide access to the nine great celestial realms.

The Siberian Yakut culture associate the birch with ‘Ai Toyou’ the ‘bringer of light’ who lives in a birch tree with its branches filled with nests of children.

The association of birch with light is a powerful one – the beautiful silver-white bark reflects light and appears particularly striking and ethereal by moonlight, especially on those dark winter nights when the trees stand bare of leaves.

Birch is associated with the Celtic god of light, Lugh. And legend tells that birch – ‘beith’ – was the first letter of the Celtic tree alphabet – the ogham – ever written. The letter ‘beith’ was carved seven times onto a piece of birch by the god Ogma so that he could warn the god Lugh that his wife had been taken by fairies. It also served as a protective talisman for Lugh as he sought for his wife.

In the Celtic world, birch trees are also associated with the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis – you can imagine the ethereal beauty of the scene with these dancing lights reflected in the silver birch bark – and through this association, with the Celtic goddess Arianrhod who has her throne in the ‘corona borealis’, ‘the crown of the north wind’. Celtic women are thought to have traditionally used birch to ask for Arianrhod’s assistance in childbirth (a time of new beginnings).

Simple Cold Moon ritual

Light a white candle beside a small bowl of natural spring water. Stand over the water and pray for the strength to let go of your vice. Write down your negative behavior nine times on a piece of paper. Fold up the paper, place it inside a freezer bag, and pour in some of the prayer water. Place the bag inside your icebox to ‘freeze’ your bad habits – putting them behind you forever.

Sources:

Here is a list of the pagan, religious, and secular holidays for January 2020 that have thus far been shared here on The Pagan Calendar. As you can see I have divided it into sections with the almanac and astrological dates listed separately.

Almanac:

Astrological Info – The Sun:

Astrological Info – The Moon:

Lucky and Unlucky Days:

  • January has 6 days that are lucky:
    1, 2, 15, 26, 27 and 28.
  • January has 7 days that are unlucky:
    3, 4, 6, 13, 14, 20 and 21.

January Lore and General Info:

Celebrations Around The World

Best Days:

  • Plant above ground crops: 4, 5, 9, 26 – 28, 31
  • Plant root crops: 10, 15 – 18, 21 – 23
  • Plant flowers: 9, 10, 15, 16
  • Transplant: 10, 17, 18
  • Seed beds: 9, 10, 17, 18
  • Tend hydroponics: 10, 27 – 29
  • Prune to encourage growth: 10, 15 – 18, 21 – 23
  • Prune to discourage growth: 1 – 3, 24, 25, 29, 30
  • Apply chemical fertilizer: 11, 26 – 28
  • Apply organic fertilizer: 10, 17, 18
  • Destroy weeds: 11 – 14
  • Control pests: 20, 21
  • Harvest crops: 11, 12, 19, 20
  • Wean: 19 – 28
  • Kill farm meat: 17
  • Set hens and incubators: 2 – 9
  • Castrate: 1, 2, 21 – 31

Any January lore, almanac, astrological, and celebration dates that have been shared after this post was published can be found by searching the January posts to see what’s new.

In Tabayama Village of Kitatsuru District, Yamanashi Prefecture, a (a Fire Festival dedicated to the Dōsojin or the deity of pathways and roads practiced throughout Eastern Japan. The festivity called Dondoyaki, and is celebrated between 14th and 15th January.

In this festivity, the villagers gather their Mayudama Dumplings, decorative rice dumplings made for the Japanese New Year and suspended from lines or tree tweeds. These are cooked over a bonfire and then eaten. Eating those dumplings is believed to prevent cavities, while the heat from the bonfire makes the person healthy for the rest of the year. Ashes from the fire can be used as snake and disease repellent as well as fire hazard preventative.

Source: Japanese Folklore Research Center

In Voodoo, Voudoo or Voodun, Mange Loa is the feeding of the Loa (Gods). This refers to a large annual feasting of all the Loa during which they are offered drinks, syrups, cakes, birds, chickens and even bulls. Other names for this feast are “The Breaking of the Cakes” and “Jan Case Gateaux.” It is believed that the powers of all Loa increase at Earth level during these celebrations often held on January 2.

In this, the most frequently performed ritual in voodoo, food or animal sacrifices are offered up to the Loa. Literally, this is a “feeding of the Gods.” Each Loa has a taste for a particular food or drink, all the better to summon the Loa to the living world. When rituals are held outside, food and other offerings might be left at a crossroad or other place of significance

Strictly speaking, every voodoo ceremony at which offerings are presented – birds, a goat and chickens, even a bull, and always the accompanying offerings such as liquor or cakes – is a feeding of the Loa; an augmentation of their powers at earth level.

Today give offerings to your personal Loa or deity. This both gives strength and power to the Loa/deity and also strengthens the connections between you both.

Who are the Loa?

Loa (also spelled lwa) are the spirits of Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo. They are also referred to as “mystères” and “the invisibles” and are intermediaries between Bondye (from French Bon Dieu, meaning “good God”) —the Supreme Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity.

Unlike saints or angels, however, they are not simply prayed to, they are served. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols, and special modes of service. Contrary to popular belief, the Loa are not deities in and of themselves; they are intermediaries for, and dependent on, the distant Bondye.

The Loa protect children from misfortune. In return the families must feed the Loa through periodic rituals in which food, drink and other gifts are offered to the spirits. Services are usually held at a sanctuary on family land.

Collected from various sources

 

The main theme for January is “CLEAN IT UP”.

We have some very big energies coming in that you will not be able to take advantage of if you are bogged down in physical, emotional and energetic clutter, old intentions, unfinished business, anything you have put off or procrastinated and should have done “yesterday”, regrets, unexpressed communication, attachments to disappointments and unmanifested dreams, persisting bad habits, and we can go on and on as the list is very long.

You cannot bring in the new without making space by cleaning out the old. It is very simple. We spend lots of time making new lists and talking about what we want to accomplish in 2019 but there is no room for anything new unless we declutter the past. If you clean up the past, you will have many more options about what and how to bring in some new dreams and experiences. And we have tremendous opportunity to do so.

Here is an image. You have an old roof that has been fixed and layered with new material many, many times. Now it is time for a new roof again as this one does not serve you. It is cracked and leaking. You can patch or put on another layer of roofing making the roof very heavy and requiring you to use the same material. Or you can completely remove the existing roof and start over giving you many options of what materials to use. Although it will take more time and energy up front, it will be something better and much improved and certainly much lighter.

The container of your life is like your roof. You can either layer it with the same old beliefs, judgments, intentions and habits, or you clean up the clutter and start over. Cleaning up requires courage to let go, to complete and to tie up loose ends. It may require you to release some old hopes and dreams. We need to recapitulate our sentimentality and make sure it is not getting in the way of creating something new. There are many layers and aspects of cleaning up and each of us will have different percentages of each one to do.

The year starts off with a set of eclipses potentiating any focused work we do this month. There is a pressurized quality to the month that motivates us to clean under the rug and dig deep to see what we actually have, what we want to keep, and what we need to clean up. You can find yourself busy these days with the inspiration to get that new roof on but it is important to do this in a structured and organized way. Otherwise the chaos (yes, it follows us into 2019) will have you distracted and focused in unimportant areas.

Physical Clean Up

This one is easy as it is very clear where the clutter is. Look with fresh eyes at what you surround yourself with and have the courage to get rid of things even if they are “still useful” but you have not actually used them in a long time. Be generous in passing them along to someone who may actually use them.

Papers, files, old photos, stuff your kids made, things people have given you, clothing equipment, electronics etc. If they do not have an active place in your life today, release them. Another category is unfinished projects that may have seemed like a good idea at one time but ask yourself if you are really going to ever get back and finish them. The attachment to all of these physical things is usually of the ego as they represent something connected to our identity; a success, relationship, time in our life, experience or event, recognition, education etc.

The artisan role of the year is a master of destruction. Use this artisan talent wisely in dismantling your current container so you can recreate it to serve you better. Take one aspect or section at a time and drawer by drawer, you will gain momentum in your process of clean up. There will be many parts you will keep, but they will end up being organized differently. To support this, you can start by making some changes in your schedule to accommodate the clean-up process.

Emotional Clean Up

This is an area that is usually somewhat messy as it has to do mostly with relationships, karma, betrayal, unrequited love, what was said, what wasn’t said, and lots of unfinished business and loose end especially around endings. Emotional confusion falls into this category as well. This includes not trusting your intuition or sitting on the fence about something and either not going after what you feel is right or not cutting something loose that looks right but isn’t, because you are too cautious to take the leap.

Feelings can be confusing especially when it comes to karmic agreements around relationships. When do you known when something is finished? And how do you know when something is right? The truth is, if it does not feel right or good, it probably isn’t and it is time to change the relationship. Sometimes, relationships need to simply change and not be banned forever. This is a great opportunity to clean up old relationships, even if just from your end, as well as to complete necessary communication. If someone has passed on before you got to say what you wanted to say, you can always write a letter to them and then burn it as an offering to clean the emotional energy.

Forgiveness is a big part of the emotional clean up and goes a long way to neutralize what has been charged with negative emotions. Practice forgiveness when possible especially with yourself as most judgment ends up being focused back inward in some way. It is time to release the attachment we have to suffering and low self-esteem. It will not get us through the pearly gates. Bottom line is that anything that has an emotional charge to it can use some clean up.

Energetic Clean Up

What are you still carrying for others? Where are your energy leaks?

The energetic clean up includes your belief systems and what you take on from others and how you allow the attention points and judgments of others to affect you energetically. This is often a subtle area to recognize but one that can profoundly affect you. Sometimes we do not know why we feel the way we do and what we feel makes no sense. This is probably due to an energy field that is cluttered with what is not yours.

This is an excellent month to learn how to differentiate between what is yours and what is not, and to set good boundaries.

On the other hand, when you hold your boundaries too close out of fear of losing control of your energy field, you are also not available for the power you could receive from all the greater sources of energy that support us, such as the elements, your essence, the energy of love, beauty, inspiration, wisdom, powerful times like the eclipses and moon cycles. Your allies, guides and spirit helpers and the ones that can connect you to those greater sources of energy. Cleaning up your energy and eliminating fear will open up communication and make room for these sources of greater power and energy.

~The Power Path


February 17 is the Feast of Shesmu, Eqyptian god of execution, slaughter, blood, embalming oil, wine, and perfume. Old Kingdom texts mention a special feast celebrated for Shesmu: young men would press grapes with their feet and then dance and sing for Shesmu.

Shesmu is also known as:

  • Shezmu, Schezemu, Schesmu, Shesemu, Shezmou, Shesmou, Sezmu and Sesmu.

Shesmu was a god with a contradictory personality. On one hand, he was lord of perfume, maker of all precious oil, lord of the oil press, lord of ointments and lord of wine; a celebration deity.

On the other hand, Shesmu was very vindictive and bloodthirsty. He was also lord of blood, great slaughterer of the gods and he who dismembers bodies. In Old Kingdom pyramid texts several prayers ask Shesmu to dismember and cook certain deities in an attempt to give the food to a deceased king. The deceased king needed the divine powers to survive the dangerous journey to the stars.

Shesmu had the head, fangs, and mane of a lion drenched in blood, and he wore human skulls around his waist. He could form into a man or falcon.

Shezmu did away with bad people, putting their heads through winepresses, draining them of their blood and turning it into wine on the order of Osiris. The bodies and blood of the dead gave sustenance for Unas, Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, and the last ruler of the Fifth dynasty from the Old Kingdom.

Due to its color, red wine became strongly identified with blood, and thus Shezmu was identified as lord of blood. Since wine was seen as a good thing, his association with blood was considered one of righteousness, making him considered an executioner of the unrighteous, being the slaughterer of souls. When the main form of execution was by beheading, it was said that Shezmu ripped off the heads of those who were wicked, and threw them into a wine press, to be crushed into red wine, which was given to the righteous dead.

Beheading was commonly carried out by the victim resting their head on a wooden block, and so Shezmu was referred to as Overthrower of the Wicked at the Block. This violent aspect lead to depiction, in art, as a lion-headed man, thus being known as fierce of face.

In later times, Egyptians used the wine press for producing oils instead of wine, which was produced by crushing under foot instead. Consequently, Shezmu became associated with unguents and embalming oils, and thus the preservation of the body, and of beauty.

The violent character of Shesmu made him a protector among the companions of Ra’s nocturnal barque. Shesmu protected Ra by threatening the demons and brawling with them.

Shezmu followed the commands of The God of The Dead. Though he seemed a fierce underworld deity, he offered protection to the virtuous. Shezmu offered red wine to those who had passed on.

The feast is no longer celebrated, but most Ancient Egyptian feasts were religious in nature. Bread, cakes, wine/beer, meat, and fowl would have been consumed, incense burned, and prayers offered to Shesmu.

Sources:

According to historical documents, on the day when Shun, who was one of ancient China’s mythological emperors, came to the throne more than 4000 years ago, he led his ministers to worship heaven and earth. From then on, that day was regarded as the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar. This is the basic origin of Chinese New Year.

The new year is by far the most important festival of the Chinese lunar calendar. A long time ago, the emperor determined the start of the New Year. Today, celebrations are based on Emperor Han Wu Di’s almanac. It uses the first day of the first month of the Lunar Year as the start of Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year always occurs in January or February on the second new moon after the winter solstice, though on occasion it has been the third new moon.

In 2019, the Chinese New Year officially begins on February 5th and ends on February 19th. This begins the Year of the Pig.

The holiday is a time of renewal, with debts cleared, new clothes bought, shops and homes decorated, and families gathered for a reunion dinner. Enjoying extravagant foods with family and friends is arguably the cornerstone of the occasion, along with receiving the ubiquitous red envelopes full of cash (called lai see in Cantonese, or hongbao in Mandarin).

Chinese New Year is marked by fireworks, traditional lion dances, gift giving, and special foods. This is one of the most important holidays. It is observed all over the world. Similar celebrations occur in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. The “Spring Festival” in modern Mainland China, is China’s most important traditional festival, this public holiday starts on the Chinese New Year, and lasts for 7 days.

About The Chinese Calendar

The Chinese Calendar is a based on the cycles of the moon. The start of the New Year begins anywhere from late January to mid-February. A complete lunar cycle takes 60 years. It is composed of five cycles that are 12 years each. Each 12-year segment is named after an animal.

According to legend, Buddha called all the animals to him before he departed from earth. Only twelve came and as a reward to them, he named the years after them in the order they arrive (the order is listed below). It is believed the animal ruling of the year you are born effects your personality and “it is the animal that hides in your heart”.

The Chinese calendar uses the stem-branch system. The branches are the 12 years. There are ten stems that are used in the counting system. The stems are metal, water, wood, fire and soil; each having a yin and a yang side. There are a lot more intricacies in the system, but you should also know that the elements correlate to colors. Metal=white or golden, water=black, wood=green, fire=red, and soil=brown.

When you put all of this together you end up with the following:

  • 2007 is the Year of the Red Pig
  • 2008 is the Year of the Brown Rat
  • 2009 is the Year of the Brown Ox
  • 2010 is the Year of the White or Golden Tiger
  • 2011 is the Year of the White or Golden Rabbit
  • 2012 is the Year of the Black Dragon
  • 2013 is the Year of the Black Snake
  • 2014 is the Year of the Green Horse
  • 2015 is the Year of the Green Sheep
  • 2016 is the Year of the Red Monkey
  • 2017 is the Year of the Red Rooster
  • 2018 is the Year of the Brown Dog
  • 2019 is the Year of the Brown Pig
  • 2020 is the Year of the White Rat

Which Chinese zodiac animal are you?

According to the Asian astrology, your year of birth – and the animal this represents – determines a lot about your personality traits. Find the year you were born, and you can figure out which animal in the Chinese Zodiac is yours. The animal changes at the beginning of the Chinese New Year, and traditionally these animals were used to date the years.

Remember, Chinese New Year is a movable celebration, dictated by the lunar cycle, which can fall anytime between January 21 and February 20. So, if you were born during that time, you may need to do some research to figure out which animal applies to you.

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954
  • Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959

Traditions

Traditions observed during the New Year stem from legends and practices from ancient times. Legend tells of a village, thousands of years ago, that was ravaged by Nian, an evil monster, one winter’s night. The following year the monster returned and again ravaged the village. Before it could happen a third time, the villagers devised a plan to scare the monster away.

The color red protects against evil. Red banners were hung everywhere. Firecrackers were set off, and people banged on drums and gongs creating loud noises to scare the beast away. The plan worked. The celebration lasted several days during which people visited with each other, exchanged gifts, danced, and ate tasty food. Today, celebrations last two weeks.

The red posters with poetic verses on it were initially a type of amulet, but now it simply means good fortune and joy. Various Chinese New Year symbols express different meanings. For example, an image of a fish symbolizes “having more than one needs every year”. A firecracker symbolizes “good luck in the coming year”. The festival lanterns symbolize “pursuing the bright and the beautiful.”

Preparing for the New Year

Spring cleaning is started about a month prior to the new year and must be completed before the celebrations begin. All the negativity and bad luck from the previous year must be swept out of the house.

Many people clean their homes to welcome the Spring Festival. They put up the red posters with poetic verses on it to their doors, Chinese New Year pictures on their walls, and decorate their homes with red lanterns. It is also a time to reunite with relatives so many people visit their families at this time of the year.

People also get haircuts and purchase new clothing. It symbolizes a fresh start. Flowers and decorations are purchased. Decorations include a New year picture (Chinese colored woodblock print), Chinese knots, and paper-cuttings, and couplets.

Flowers have special meanings and the flower market stocks up on:

  • Plum blossom for luck
  • Kumquats for prosperity
  • Narcissus for prosperity
  • Sunflowers to have a good year
  • Eggplant to heal sickness
  • Chom mon planta for tranquility

Offerings are made to the Kitchen God about a week before the New Year.

On The Eve of The Spring Festival

The Annual Reunion Dinner, Nian Ye Fan, is held on the eve of the festival. This is an important part of the celebration. Families come together and eat together. The food is symbolic. Many dishes have ingredients that sound the same as good tidings. In northern China, dumplings are served at midnight, they symbolize wealth.

In the evening of the Spring Festival Eve, many people set off fireworks and firecrackers, hoping to cast away any bad luck and bring forth good luck. Children often receive “luck” money. Many people wear new clothes and send Chinese New Year greetings to each other. Various activities such as beating drums and striking gongs, as well as dragon and lion dances, are all part of the Spring Festival festivities.

The dragon dance is a highlight in the celebrations. A team of dances mimic the movements of the dragon river spirit. Dragons bring good luck.

Lions are considered good omens. The lion dance repels demons. Each lion has two dancers, one to maneuver the head, the other to guide the back. Business owners offer the lions a head of lettuce and oranges or tangerines. The offerings hope to insure a successful year in business. Lettuce translates into “growing wealth” and tangerines and oranges sound like “gold” and “wealth” in Chinese. The lions eat the oranges, then spew them up and out into the hordes of people who eagerly tried to catch the them. After eating the lettuce, they spit out it out in a thousand pieces.

During the New Year

Red packets called Lai See Hong Bao (or Hongbao) with money tucked inside are given out as a symbol of good luck. The amount is an even number as odd numbers are regarded as unlucky.

  • Bright red lanterns are hung.
  • Brooms and cleaning material are put away. No cleaning takes place during the holiday so no good luck is swept out of the home.
  • During the New Year celebrations people do not fight and avoid being mean to each other, as this would bring a bad, unlucky year.
  • Bright colors and red are worn.
  • Everyone celebrates their birthday this day and they turn one year older.
  • Traditional red oval shaped lanterns are hung.

The end of the New Year is celebrated with the Lantern Festival.

Top Ten Taboos for The Chinese New Year

The Spring Festival is a time of celebration. It’s to welcome the new year with a smile and let the fortune and happiness continue on. At the same time, the Spring Festival involves somber ceremonies to wish for a good harvest. Strict rules and restrictions go without saying.

To help you with that, here are the top 10 taboos during the Chinese New Year. Follow these and fortune will smile on you.

  • 1. Do not say negative words

All words with negative connotations are forbidden! These include: death, sick, empty, pain, ghost, poor, break, kill and more. The reason behind this should be obvious. You wouldn’t want to jinx yourself or bring those misfortunes onto you and your loved ones.

  • 2. Do not break ceramics or glass

Breaking things will break your connection to prosperity and fortune. If a plate or bowl is dropped, immediately wrap it with red paper while murmuring auspicious phrases. Some would say 岁岁平安 (suì suì píng ān). This asks for peace and security every year. 岁 (suì) is also a homophone of 碎, which means “broken” or “shattered.” After the New Year, throw the wrapped up shards into a lake or river.

  • 3. Do not clean or sweep

Before the Spring Festival, there is a day of cleaning. That is to sweep away the bad luck. But during the actual celebration, it becomes a taboo. Cleaning or throwing out garbage may sweep away good luck instead.

If you must, make sure to start at the outer edge of a room and sweep inwards. Bag up any garbage and throw it away after the 5th day. Similarly, you shouldn’t take a shower on Chinese New Year’s Day.

  • 4. Do not use scissors, knives or other sharp objects

There are 2 reasons behind this rule. Scissors and needles shouldn’t be used. In olden times, this was to give women a well-deserved break.

Sharp objects in general will cut your stream of wealth and success. This is why 99% of hair salons are closed during the holidays. Hair cutting is taboo and forbidden until Lunar February 2, when all festivities are over.

  • 5. Do not visit the wife’s family

Traditionally, multiple generations live together. The bride moves into the groom’s home after marriage. And, of course, she will celebrate Chinese New Year with her in-laws.

Returning to her parents on New Year’s Day means that there are marriage problems and may also bring bad luck to the entire family. The couple should visit the wife’s family on the 2nd day. They’d bring their children, as well as a modest gift (because it’s the thought that counts).

  • 6. Do not demand debt repayment

This custom is a show of understanding. It allows everyone a chance to celebrate without worry. If you knock on someone’s door, demanding repayment, you’ll bring bad luck to both parties. However, it’s fair game after the 5th day. Borrowing money is also taboo. You could end up having to borrow the entire year.

  • 7. Avoid fighting and crying

Unless there is a special circumstance, try not to cry. But if a child cries, do not reprimand them. All issues should be solved peacefully. In the past, neighbors would come over to play peacemaker for any arguments that occurred. This is all to ensure a smooth path in the new year.

  • 8. Avoid taking medicine

Try not to take medicine during the Spring Festival to avoid being sick the entire year. Of course, if you are chronically ill or contract a sudden serious disease, immediate health should still come first. Related taboos include the following ~ Don’t visit the doctor, Don’t perform/undergo surgery, Don’t get shots

  • 9. Do not give New Year blessings to someone still in bed

You are supposed to give New Year blessings (拜年—bài nián). But let the recipient get up from bed first. Otherwise, they’ll be bed-ridden for the entire year. You also shouldn’t tell someone to wake up. You don’t want them to be rushed around and bossed around for the year. Take advantage of this and sleep in!

  • 10. Chinese gift-giving taboos

It was mentioned above that you should bring gifts when paying visits. It’s the thought that counts, but some gifts are forbidden.

  • Clocks are the worst gifts. The word for clock is a homophone (sounds like) “the funeral ritual”. Also, clocks and watches are items that show that time is running out.
  • Items associated with funerals – handkerchiefs, towels, chrysanthemums, items colored white and black.
  • Sharp objects that symbolize cutting a tie (i.e. scissors and knives).
  • Items that symbolize that you want to walk away from a relationship (examples: shoes and sandals)
  • Mirrors
  • Homonyms for unpleasant topics (examples:green hats because “wear a green hat” sounds like “cuckold”, “handkerchief” sounds like “goodbye”, “pear” sounds like “separate”, and “umbrella” sounds like “disperse”).

Some regions have their own local taboos too. For example, in Mandarin, “apple” (苹果) is pronounced píng guǒ. But in Shanghainese, it is bing1 gu, which sounds like “passed away from sickness.”

These don’t just apply to the Spring Festival, so keep it in the back of your mind!

For the Spring Festival, these rules may seem excessive. Especially when you add in the cultural norms, customs and manners. But like a parent would say, they are all for your own good. Formed over thousands of years, these taboos embody the beliefs, wishes and worries of the Chinese people.

Foods For The New Year

Dishes may vary slightly according to regional and family customs. Dumplings (gau ji) are more commonly served in the north of China, while Hong Kong families often go for a dim sum meal.

Food symbolism goes back centuries in China, and is taken very seriously on special occasions such as Lunar New Year. All food items have their symbolic meanings which, for Hongkongers, are often derived from their Cantonese homonyms. For instance, the Cantonese word for lettuce – sang choi – sounds very similar to the phrase which means “growing wealth”. Of course, nothing considered “unlucky” is allowed near the dining table.

By carefully choosing the menu in this way, families will supposedly be able to increase their luck and manifest their wishes for the coming year, whether those be earning more money or having more children.

Red meat is not served and one is careful not to serve or eat from a chipped or cracked plate. Fish is eaten to ensure long life and good fortune. Red dates bring the hope for prosperity, melon seeds for proliferation, and lotus seeds means the family will prosper through time. Oranges and tangerines symbolize wealth and good fortune. Nian gao, the New Year’s Cake is always served. It is believed that the higher the cake rises the better the year will be. When company stops by a “prosperity tray” is served. The tray has eight sides (another symbol of prosperity) and is filled with goodies like red dates, melon seeds, cookies, and New Year Cakes.

Here the origins of some traditional Chinese festival foods and their often quirky symbolic meanings.

  • Lettuce for the lion dance

No traditional Lunar New Year celebration is complete without the famous lion dance, which is thought to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Performers wearing the traditional lion costume normally dance through the streets to the sound of gongs and drums. When the lion briefly stops at houses and businesses along the way, it will “eat” lettuce that is hung up outside the doors, since the humble vegetable symbolizes “growing fortune”. Inside the head of the lettuce will often be a red envelope, further emphasizing its significance.

  • Dried oysters and ‘hair vegetable’ stir-fry

This unusual but lucky dish is named ho see fat choy in Cantonese, which sounds a lot like the words meaning “flourishing business”. For an extra dose of luck, ho see (oyster) on its own sounds similar to the Cantonese for “good things” or “good business”, while fat choy (hair vegetable) sounds similar to “prosperity”, as in the traditional Lunar New Year greeting kung hei fat choi. What’s more, the expensive “hair vegetable”, which looks like strands of black hair, is actually a type of fungus. But that doesn’t put off Cantonese restaurants from serving the auspicious dish at Lunar New Year.

  • Egg noodles, or yi mein

This classic dish of stir-fried egg noodles is often served at formal dinners during Lunar New Year and other festivals, as it symbolises longevity. The chef must not cut the noodle strands to preserve their length. For this reason, yi mein is often eaten at birthday celebrations too – kind of like the Chinese equivalent of a candle-lit birthday cake.

  • Glutinous rice cake, or neen go

The Cantonese term for this traditional sticky treat sounds the same as the literal words “year high”, which symbolize the promise of a better year to come. Families may eat this for several reasons: wanting to have a higher income, higher social status or even more children. Rice cake can be cooked in a variety of ways, and can be sweet or savory. Historical records date the yearly custom to at least 1,000 years ago, in the days of the Liao dynasty (AD907-1125). If there’s one thing that is unmissable from every family’s Lunar New Year feast in all parts of China and Hong Kong, it must be this dish.

  • ‘Basin food’, or poon choi

Originating from the walled villages of the New Territories, this traditional celebratory dish soon spread throughout Hong Kong and later China. Legend has it that the early settlers in the New Territories would pool together their most prized ingredients – meat and seafood – in a big wooden washbasin and cook them to be served to the whole village. The communal dish required huge efforts of co-ordination and manpower to cook, so it quickly became associated with celebrations and religious rituals. Each village had its own secret poon choi recipe consisting of various ingredients layered in a particular order in the pot, but the dish is now found in most Cantonese restaurants on special occasions.

  • Lotus root soup, or leen gnau tong

The fleshy, tuber-like roots of the lotus flower have been a staple of Chinese cooking for millennia, and traditionally symbolise “abundance”, since the Cantonese term sounds like “having [money] year after year”. The ingredient is also prized for its supposed “cooling” effect on the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine. Lotus root soup, or alternatively stir-fried lotus root, is commonly eaten at Lunar New Year for these reasons.

  • Dim sum

Another Cantonese food tradition that is now common in the West is dim sum. The phrase literally means “a light touch of the heart” or “a little bit of heart”. This reflects the care and attention put into each bite-sized dish that is shared between the table, such as har gau (shrimp dumplings), various types of filled buns, and cheung fun (rice noodle rolls). Like a Chinese take on brunch, dim sum is often served at lengthy afternoon yum cha sessions in tea houses. But Hongkongers often go for an even more lavish version of this meal around Lunar New Year.

Auspicious Greetings

The Chinese New Year is often accompanied by loud, enthusiastic greetings, often referred to as auspicious words or phrases. New Year couplets printed in gold letters on bright red paper is another way of expressing auspicious new year wishes. The most common auspicious greetings and sayings consist of four characters, such as the following:

  • 金玉滿堂 Jīnyùmǎntáng –
    “May your wealth [gold and jade] come to fill a hall”
  • 大展鴻圖 Dàzhǎnhóngtú –
    “May you realize your ambitions”
  • 迎春接福 Yíngchúnjiēfú –
    “Greet the New Year and encounter happiness”
  • 萬事如意 Wànshìrúyì –
    “May all your wishes be fulfilled”
  • 吉慶有餘 Jíqìngyǒuyú –
    “May your happiness be without limit”
  • 竹報平安 Zhúbàopíng’ān –
    “May you hear [in a letter] that all is well”
  • 一本萬利 Yīběnwànlì –
    “May a small investment bring ten-thousandfold profits”
  • 福壽雙全 Fúshòushuāngquán –
    “May your happiness and longevity be complete”
  • 招財進寶 Zhāocáijìnbǎo –
    “When wealth is acquired, precious objects follow”

These greetings or phrases may also be used just before children receive their red packets, when gifts are exchanged, when visiting temples, or even when tossing the shredded ingredients of yusheng particularly popular in Malaysia and Singapore. Children and their parents can also pray in the temple, in hopes of getting good blessings for the new year to come.

Sources:

 

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