BY LILY CHOO, EPOCH TIMES
January 29, 2019 Updated: January 30, 2019
The Chinese New Year is celebrated on Feb. 5, marking the beginning of the year of the Pig in the Chinese zodiac.
It is a time for reflection, for resolutions, and new hope in the year to come. Some believe the year of the Pig will bring wealth and prosperity.
According to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the Chinese lunar year may fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February.
The Chinese lunar calendar incorporates both the lunar cycle and the position of the sun. According to legend, the calendar dates back to 2600 B.C., when the mythical Yellow Emperor started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac and named an animal to represent each year in the 12-year cycle.
The 12 animal signs are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
A pig lantern displayed at the Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai, China to mark the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Pig, which starts on February 5. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The Sign of the Pig
The Pig is the twelfth sign in the Chinese zodiac. If you were born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019 your Chinese zodiac sign is likely the pig. It is important, though, to consider the day of your birth in January or February in regard to the first day of the Chinese New Year.
Pig is perhaps the most complex symbol, since it has both positive and negative elements. The positive elements are wealth (symbolized by the piggy bank), good fortune, friendship, patience, popularity and peace.
Pigs are associated with stupidity in both Eastern and Western cultures. In English, the word “Pigheaded” means stupid or stubborn. In Chinese, the word “pig head” is used when scolding at someone who is stupid. The Pig represents negative personality traits such as being stubborn, careless, absent-minded, disorganized and mischievous.
New Year Wishes: A Year to Expect Wealth
The Chinese people believe the year of the Pig will bring wealth and prosperity. Besides having a stable income, they hope to make more money, and some believe it is an auspicious time to make new financial investments.
The year of the Pig is expected to bring joy, friendship and love for all the zodiac signs as the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life.
Happy Chinese New Year! (過年好! guò nián hǎo)
The Golden Pig brings you good fortune! (金豬報福! Jīn zhū bào fú)
Lucky and joyful year of the Pig! (福豬頌春! Fú zhū sòng chūn)
Peace and good health in the year of the Pig! (豬年安康! zhū nián ān kāng)
The year of the Pig arrives and good fortune comes! (豬年到 好運到! zhū nián dào, hǎo yùn dào)
Year of the Pig brings luck and joy. (Catherine Chang/The Epoch Times)
New Year Traditions
Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese festivals. The celebration usually lasts 15 days, from New Year’s Day to the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
There are many traditions and customs associated with the Chinese New Year. Families thoroughly clean their homes in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with delicate red paper cutouts and poetic couplets—pairs of corresponding lines of poetry that express people’s joy and hope for the New Year.
Fireworks, firecrackers, red packages, the lion dance, the dragon dance, and lanterns with riddles are other common customs and traditions observed during the Chinese New Year period.
Friends dine on a feast to celebrate Chinese New Year during a community activity in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China on Jan. 14, 2006. (China Photos/Getty Images)
Many families gather for a big family reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese people also visit their relatives as part of the New Year celebration.
Children learn traditional paper cutting with festive red paper, the Year of the Pig, in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, China on Jan. 30, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Lion dancers perform at a Chinese New Year celebration in a small community in upstate New York, U.S. on Jan. 31, 2016. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)
Celebration with Couplet Verses
Couplet Verses or Chinese New Year Couplets, Chūn Lián (春聯) in Chinese, are an important part of the New Year celebration. Also known as antithetical couplet, it is often in traditional style and reflects hope, peace and prosperity for the year to come.
Chinese couplets are usually a pair of successive lines of verse, especially a pair that rhyme, and the number of characters in each line is the same. The structure is very strict and well-defined.
The first line is the “head” and the second line is the “tail.” In a couplet, a balance must be found between head and tail, between each character in one and the usually contrasting character in the same position in the other, and in tone, rhyme, and meaning.
A horizontal streamer (橫披, hénɡ pī), which normally has four characters, is added above the entrance and between the two vertical streamers to indicate the theme of the couplets.
A woman walking past a wall decorated with new year couplets at a traditional market on Di Hua street to mark the coming Lunar New Year—the Year of the Pig—in Taipei on Jan. 25, 2019. (Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)
The founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368–1644), Zhu Yuangzhang, issued an order before the New Year’s Eve requiring every householder to write couplets on red paper and post them on entry door frames to welcome the New Year.
In the morning of the New Year, the emperor dressed himself in plain clothes and went door-to-door reading the couplets. Whenever he saw well-written scrolls, he was very happy and praised the writers’ talent.
With the emperor’s advocacy, the tradition of writing New Year couplets became a custom that has been continued to the present day.
Couplet Verses for the Year of the Pig:
The Pig is the most valued among the six farm animals [pig, cow, sheep, chicken, horse and dog] (六畜豬為首 liù chù zhū wéi shǒu)
Spring takes the lead among the four seasons (一年春佔先 yī nián chūn zhàn xiān)
The Dog keeps guard for a peaceful 2018 (狗守太平歲 gǒu shǒu tài píng suì)
The Pig ushers in a prosperous 2019 (牽富裕年 zhū qiān fù yù nián)
Although the Pig is the last (Chinese) zodiac sign (雖屬生肖後 suī shǔ sheng xiào hòu)
The Pig is ranked first among the six farm animals [pig, cow, sheep, chicken, horse and dog] (卻居六畜先(què jū liù chù xiān)