Is it the Year of the Sheep, the Goat, or the Ram? February 19 marks the Chinese New Year (and simultaneously Lunar New Year holidays in Vietnam, Tibet, Mongolia and Korea). As many people know, there is a 12-year animal zodiac cycle in the traditional Chinese calendar: the Year of the Horse has just ended. But what exactly is the animal sign for the year that is just now beginning? [more inside]
A much anticipated birth is expected by many Chinese families after the New Moon on Monday, 23rd January ushers in the auspicious Year of the Dragon. The only mythological beast in the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon as a symbol in China dates back to 3000 BC and stands for happiness, immortality, procreation, fertility and activity. This year's babies will be Black Water Dragons, considered to be calmer, more flexible and even more charismatic than other elements. In previous dragon years, countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore have all experienced baby booms, and preparations are in place for this year's influx of baby dragons.
Hamster Market Bubble in China. Hamsters have become the must-have pet in China since the Year of the Rat began on 7 February. Hamster demand has tripled in recent weeks and some enterprising individuals might be buying them with the sole intention of holding them for a short period before flipping them for a profit. For my own part, I'm working with HSBC in trying to launch a market in hamster-backed short term notes.
Nian Nian You Yu ("nyen nyen yo yew") - translates to "Have abundance every year" or phonetically as "Year Year Got Fish." Tomorrow evening, over a billion people will be celebrating Lunar New Year's Eve with a Reunion Dinner. This involves family members coming together and for many, the ideal menu includes eating braised shark's fin soup. This is a perfect time to regale your friends and family with shark factoids and horror stories. True you mother won't appreciate when you point out to Auntie Mei how how around 100 million sharks are caught worldwide every year, mostly just for their fins, or that actually the dish is tasteless and people are just ordering it to show off their wealth. But surely it's better than one day having to say "Year Year Got No Fish."
'Chinese' New Year news fest The generally wonderful Guardian Weblog has a special page of hard-hitting Chinese news links in honor of Lunar New Year beginning Jan. 24. (Commonly called Chinese New Year, but the Vietnamese celebrate it, too.) These include a link to a Foreign Affairs discussion of the Tiananmen Papers, believed to be internal Chinese documents about the Tiananmen Square events of 1989. (Earlier MeFi linkage of a Tiananmen Papers article can be found here.