Expat Life

Pig Year ahead

It’s the Year of the Pig! Happy New Year! 恭喜发财!

If you think I’m a month late– you probably do not live in Asia.

In China and many other countries in the region, they celebrate the Lunar New Year. Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in China, but also in places such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Here in Brunei, it is also a National Holiday. Seol, the Korean New Year, and Tet in Vietnam are closely related and commonly celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year.

When we lived in Beijing, it was of course a massive celebration, more like a 2 week holiday. Loud fireworks, fun temple fairs and closed shops.  

The whole city seemed so much more quiet and relaxed, as millions of people travelled back to their home towns. I remember walking into the metro after work one day, and something felt strange. It took me a moment to realise that I could actually sit down in rush hour!

Year of the Earth Pig

I don’t really believe in astrology, but I do love a bit of cultural research. Here’s a little about the Year of the Pig for you.

This year 2019 is already the year 4716 according to the Chinese calendar. The Chinese Zodiac contains 12 animals. The animals did a race together. The pig was the last to arrive, but it is not considered an unlucky zodiac sign.

The animals also have an element- in China the elements are Fire, Water, Earth, Wood and Metal. Once every 12 years it is your animal sign, but only once every 60 years they have the same element. Each animal corresponds to a month on the lunar calendar. If you were born in the month of November, there’s a little bit of pig in you.

Pigs are said to be “artistic, refined, intuitive, intelligent, and well-mannered.” They also have good communication skills and calm temperaments. So, you are in luck if you have a pig baby this year.

Lucky year?

If it is the year of your zodiac sign, you may think it is your lucky year. At least I thought so. However, it isn’t.

Your 本命年 (Běnmìngnián) is believed to be a year of bad luck and difficulties. Apparently, you insult the Tai Sui (the Heavenly Generals). You can try to mitigate it e.g. by wearing something red, though the red item must be a gift. You could also conduct a prayer session with a priest at a temple. Not sure how this works with Pigs, as red and blue are said to be unlucky colours for pigs. Yellow is the pigs lucky colour. 

Next time I have my Běnmìngnián, I will consider wearing something red, as 2015 (I’m a Goat/Sheep) was a turbulent year for me.

Wishing someone a Happy New Year

If you have a Chinese friend or colleague, you can wish them a Happy New Year with these phrases:

新年快乐 – xīn nián kuài lè- “Happy New Year”

Or 恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財 (Gōngxǐ fācái)- “Happiness and prosperity!”

Google and Bing can help you with the pronunciation, they have an audio feature.

What holiday did you learn to celebrate abroad? 
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