Spring Festival is upon us! This February 5th, 2019 marks the beginning of the year of the Pig！
Why is this important?
It’s is the final year in the 12th-year zodiac cycle! This means we can all indulge in a huge sigh of relief and reap the benefits of having worked hard the past few (eleven) years in favor of embracing and celebrating our success and joy over the year to come. Last year’s year of the dog was all about relationships with others and the value of empathy. This year of the pig is one of abundance and enjoying life!
Pigs are very meaningful animals in Chinese culture. Tracing its origin back to China’s ancient agrarian society, the character for “family” or “home” 家, consists of two parts: with the upper part 宀 symbolizing the roof, and lower part 豕 (shǐ) meaning pig in ancient China. Coincidentally, China currently remains the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork.
Pigs in Chinese lore embody a sense of generosity. Pigs in the stories promote self-love, bravery, and artistry, and they’re forgiving of any faults or shortcomings. As such, the year of the pig promotes doing more of what makes one happy, such as spending time with family or friends and putting less focus and energy on trying to be perfect. If one feels lazy this year, take it as a sign to give yourself some slack – just not too much!
Relax, and let things take their course rather than forcing them to happen. This year portends success, lightheartedness and an ability to do things with more ease. Embrace it!
One may even go a step further and decorate everything with pigs for even more luck.
People born under the year of the pig (like my baby brother and most of my 5th grade students) are thought to be loving and sensible, not so much interested in fame or wealth, but modest and generally happy.
I had a friend once tell me how she was amazed that the pig was able to cross the finish line in zodiac folklore, but the cat wasn’t. I agree, cats deserve their own year….but pigs are awfully cute.
For more info on Chinese customs and folklore surrounding Lunar New Years, see my post last year about the origins of the holiday. Last year, I stayed in town and ping-ponged around Lishui to visit with my coworkers’ extended families and experience how they celebrated their Chinese New Year Festival. It was disappointing that new laws forbid fireworks in town – which led to a hilarious consequence of people being hired out to perform as “human fireworks,” actors who make firework sounds.
I do still think it’s still unfortunate that Peppa Pig is everywhere– see my post on China’s obsession with her. It’s made even more worse as this is the pig year.
A feature-length film featuring the British pig is set to hit theaters in China on Tuesday for the Lunar New Year.
Brief End of Semester Recap
Mark and I took a brief visit to Nanjing right before his flight out of Shanghai. He seemed to have a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see him again this summer!
My classes were co-opted early in January (as in taken over for test review), so I had a few weeks off all to myself before our official month-long winter holiday in February.
My fellow AYC teachers in Lishui and I had dinner at a famous local sushi place, Jason’s. He’d lived in New York for a few years, and uses actual Philadelphia cream cheese in his Philly rolls. Jason, the owner, even came by to chat with us and brought us free ramune. Like us, he says his English is going downhill since living here, and we bonded over that and having family abroad. We also got to meet one of the new AYCers, Jacob, who’s serving down in Longquan county, Lishui.
I attended a dinner hosted by my newest -and nicest! – coworker, named Ice. She chose her own English name. I like it! It’s original and better than the bajillion Vivians or Maggies that I know. The dinner was lavish, and my coworkers (all English teachers) took pains to not speak to me in English. It’s hard sometimes, but I need to push myself more!
I was also a part of our two school’s combined New Year’s gala extravaganza! I joined my fellow 7th grade coworkers in singing a rousing rendition of “相亲相爱.” Luckily, we were given the Hanzi to sing, and I could write down whatever pinyin of the characters I didn’t know beforehand. The practice for this was very Chinese, where we only practiced once together before the big day. Somehow it all worked out!
My New Year’s Travel Plans
This year, I am joining the 3-billion-person travel rush rather than staying in Lishui like last year. I’m actually going to be exiting the country to spend two weeks in Istanbul, Turkey！I’m pretty excited to be in a part of the world that I’ve always wanted to experience firsthand, and I’ll be reuniting with Meagan, an old friend from high school!