Chinese New Year & The Chinese Zodiac

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Chinese New Year

The celebration of the New Year is the longest, most important and most anticipated Chinese holiday. The Chinese New Year is celebrated by an estimated one-sixth of the population or one billion people! Because it is traditionally a holiday spent with family, the coming New Year causes an enormous number of people to travel to be with loved ones and has been called the largest annual human migration in the world. The traditional holiday period is 23 days long and is called the Spring Festival. it is broken up into three parts. The first eight days are called Little Year. This is when the preparations for the New Year begin and go until New Year's Eve. Chinese New Year officially begins on the ninth day and runs for the next ten days, for eleven days in total. This is officially called the Spring Festival. The last four days are called the Lantern Festival. Preparations begin on the first day and the Lantern Festival is held on the last day. Below is a chart to help you visualize it.

 


Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels

The Lunar Calendar

The date for the Chinese New Year varies each year because the Chinese Zodiac system is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar and not the solar or Gregorian calendar that is used in the West and internationally. Using the lunar calendar, the first day of the month begins on the new moon. Chinese New Year's day is the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. This is why the specific date of the Chinese New Year changes every year but is always between January 21st and February 20th.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac and they go in a specific order. Every New Year it signifies the movement to the next animal in the cycle. The really interesting thing is that each animal year has lots of personality traits associated with it, and people born in that year are seen to be imbued with those particular traits.

What's Your Zodiac Sign?

The year you were born determines your Chinese zodiac sign, but, because it is based on the lunar calendar and not the solar, or gregorian calendar. People born in January or February have to pay special attention to their birth date as well as the year to make sure they get their Chinese zodiac sign correct as the exact date of the transition between animals varies every year. Here are the animals in the Chinese zodiac in order, starting with the year of the rat.

RAT - OX - TIGER- RABBIT - DRAGON - SNAKE - HORSE - GOAT - MONKEY - ROOSTER - DOG - PIG

Rat

People born in the year of the rat are highly organized and love saving money and collecting beautiful things. They are very discerning with the people they spend their time with. Rats don't like to be the centre of attention but are highly observant and very sensitive.

Ox

People born in the year of the ox are strong, quiet and very hard working. They have a strong sense of responsibility, and will always get the job done. They keep their emotions (and most other things) to themselves. If they run into difficulties, they always persevere. They don't lose their temper often but when they do, it is explosive.

Tiger

People born in the year of the tiger are highly protective, independent and are natural-born leaders. Justice is important to them and they are not afraid to fight to get it. In Chinese culture, tigers are believed to be the guardians of children so children often wear clothing, hats and shoes with tiger designs for protection.

Rabbit

People born in the year of the rabbit are gentle and kind. They are responsible and have great attention to detail. They are intelligent and excellent with their hands, making them excellent artists, craftsmen, builders and chefs. In Chinese culture, the rabbit represents the moon.

Dragon

The dragon is the only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac. People born in the year of the dragon are mysterious and majestic. They are full of personality and love lives full of adventure. They are natural leaders and very charismatic. They will never lead a boring life. They are extremely ambitious and achieve great things. Dragons are a very revered creature in Chinese culture and represent royalty. Emperors were often seen as the reincarnation of dragons.

Snake

People born in the year of the snake are determined and devoted. They are rational, calm and thoughtful. They love solving complex problems and have many talents allowing them to be able to choose many different professions. Snakes are graceful and are loyal to all the people in their lives.

Horse

People born in the year of the horse are strong, powerful and elegant. They have great strength and enthusiasm. They love their freedom and have a strong sense of adventure. Horses are intelligent and quick-witted making them suitable for fast-paced professions as they can think on their feet and adapt to change.

Goat

People born in the year of the goat are loving, kind and gentle. They are lovers of animals, children and nature. They love to care for others because they are thoughtful and good-natured. They have many friends as they are great listeners and always understanding and kind.

Monkey

People born in the year of the monkey are highly intelligent, clever and adventurous. They are creative thinkers, have many interests and excel in many areas. They tend to be tricksters, but are good-natured. they are very sociable and humourous and are well-liked by their many friends. They make excellent leaders.

Rooster

People born in the year of the rooster are magnetic, confident and high energy. They love being the centre of attention and are charismatic, very sociable and successful. Roosters are intelligent, and organized, resourceful and courageous, they will lead an exciting life.

Dog

People born in the year of the dog are loyal, honest and kind. Because of their intense loyalty, they love to serve others. Warm-hearted, sensitive and generous, they always have many people around them who love them. They are dependable, intelligent and resilient, making them great friends and allies.

Pig

People born in the year of the pig are intelligent, generous and helpful. Sincere, romantic and generous, they have a laid back attitude and don't let things get to them. They are able to see the big picture and not get caught up in the details. They are calm and collected and are great at settling disputes.

RAT - OX - TIGER- RABBIT - DRAGON - SNAKE - HORSE - GOAT - MONKEY - ROOSTER - DOG - PIG


This cute image from cafeastrology.com

Being In Your Animal Year or Ben Ming Nian

Being in your birth year, or Ben Ming Nian in the Chinese zodiac happens every twelve years. You would think that when your animal rolls around that it would be a good thing, because it is YOUR animal so it must signify all kinds of good things for you, right?

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. It is considered a year that you have to be especially careful and where you are most predisposed to attacks from evil spirits and general misfortune. Good news though, something you can do to ward off any bad luck or calamity during your year is to wear red underwear every day. Yup, every day...

So why is it that being in your animal year is considered to be such bad luck? According to Chinese astrology, people in their animal year are believed to offend the 'God of Age' Tai Sui. Tai Sui is called a star, but is not in fact a star but roughly corresponds to Jupiter. Jupiter takes 11.86 years to orbit the earth and is an imaginary star that changes its position exactly 30 degrees each year, which means it orbits the earth exactly every twelve years.

The 'star' Tai Sui is said to bring back luck and misfortune to people in the zodiac year of the animal in which they were born. For example, if you were born in the year of the rat and you are presently in a rat year, you may be in for a rough year. Tai Sui eventually evolved into the God of Age and has been worshipped by many generations of Chinese. People offer the God of Age sacrifices to keep themselves safe from bad luck and offer blessings in their zodiac year. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can fend off bad luck in your zodiac year.

Getting Good Luck in Your Animal Year

Wear Red

Red is one of the luckiest colours in Chinese culture and is seen to ward off evil spirits and drive away bad luck. Red symbolizes prosperity, success, loyalty and happiness. Wearing red items like clothing, shoes, belts or socks in your animal year will bring you good luck and give you a better chance of having a good year. Red clothing will bring luck, but red underwear seems to really amplify red's luck producing effects. There is an important rule though to make sure that wearing red will have the desired effects - the red items (and especially the underwear) must NOT be bought by you, it must be bought by someone close to you like your spouse, family member or friend.


Photo by Castorly Stock on Pexels

Wear Jade

Wearing jade accessories like jewellery during your animal year is also seen to ward off evil spirits and encourage good luck.

Facing Away From Tai Sui

Because Tai Sui is seen to change position by 30 degrees every year, Chinese astrologers say that if you simply face away from the direction Tai Sui is presently occupying you can not only ward off bad luck, but you can bring good luck by simply facing in the opposite direction. Some Chinese take this seriously changing the position of furniture in their homes and sometimes where they live and work so they can be facing away from the God of Age and preserve their good luck for the entire year.

Origins of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac or Sheng Xiao (生肖) is thought to have its origins in animal worship and dates back to the Qing dynasty, more than 200 years ago.

Legend has it that the creation of the Chinese zodiac comes from the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor is one of the most important deities in Chinese mythology. He is the ruler of heaven and the first emperor of China. He was renowned for his fairness, benevolence and mercy. Even in the present day, the Jade Emperor plays a significant role in Chinese life, especially during the New Year when the Jade Emperor is said to judge the character of each individual over the past year and reward or punish them accordingly.

The legend has it that the Jade Emperor summoned all the animals to his palace for a great feast, and they order in which they arrived determined their place in the zodiac.

The Chinese zodiac is extremely popular in China and the rest of Asia to this day and is an integral part of everyday life. The zodiac is used to determine what will happen during the year ahead, relationship compatibility, career and financial advice, the best time to have a baby and many aspects of daily life.

 

*Featured image by Min An on Pexels


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5 Tips for Athletes to Thrive on a Plant-Based Diet

By Luke Douglas

Over the years, vegan and plant-based diets and lifestyles have become extremely popular around the world. Naturally, this is a good thing for Mother Earth as well as our general well-being, so if you’re contemplating making this transition, rest assured you’re not in the wrong. That said, it’s important to note that sustaining a vegan lifestyle or simply a plant-based diet can be difficult at times, and if you’re a novice, it can seem completely overwhelming. Especially if you’re an active individual who cares a great deal about their nutrition.

After all, you’re eating to fuel your body and your mind in training and perform at your best, so you need the nutrition approach to match your goals. Without a doubt, a plant-based diet fits well into an athlete’s lifestyle, but only if you know that you’re doing. Let’s take a look at the five tips that will help you thrive on a plant-based diet as an athlete.

Mind your caloric intake

First things first, before we get into macro and micronutrients, we need to address the overarching question of calories. As an athlete, you probably know that calories are the predominant factor that influences your figure and performance. While it is true that not all calories are created equal, it’s also true that fueling your body with the right number of calories daily is paramount for peak performance.

Eat too much, and you will gain unwanted weight. Eat too little, and your precious muscle will start deteriorating and you will lose weight. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that a plant-based diet can often be low in calories, whereas meats, dairy, and eggs are calorie-dense.

Don’t let this catch you off-guard, and keep in mind that you will need to eat more food on a plant-based diet to compensate and get enough calories in daily. If you’re unsure how many calories you need, you can refer to Mayo Clinic’s handy calorie calculator

Understand complete vs incomplete proteins

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Protein intake is one of the most important factors that will determine your performance and progress as an athlete. Not only is protein an excellent source of sustainable energy next to carbohydrates, but it is also an essential building block of new muscle tissue. If you’re looking to add lean muscle to your frame and ensure long-term health and well-being, then you mustn’t skimp on protein consumption.

On a plant-based diet, however, you need to be very careful where you’re getting your protein from. This is the matter of complete vs incomplete protein sources, and you need to prioritize the former in your clean diet in order to get all the essential amino acids to build muscle, fuel your body, and reach your weight goals. You can find complete proteins in nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, buckwheat, seitan and soy, whole grains, and the like. 

Supplementation is more important than for carnivores

Before we get into supplementation, understand that supplements are not there to replace a wholesome diet. You still need to eat all your meals and get micro and macronutrients from whole foods, however, getting the right amount every day can be a challenge as a vegan.

Adequate protein intake can be one of the biggest challenges. So it’s important to delve deeper into the matter and go through a reliable plant protein guide where you will find out exactly how to maximize your protein intake and find the right supplement that is vegan-friendly and has all the amino acids you need. For vegans, it’s also important to supplement with vitamins D3 and B12, zinc and iodine, iron, and calcium.

Fats and carbs matter as well

Of course, it’s not just about the amount of protein you consume or if you’re getting all the micronutrients – you also have to be mindful of your fats and carb intake. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel source, and luckily, the plant-based diet is rich with slow-releasing carbs that will provide sustained energy throughout the day.

Fats, on the other hand, are essential for the proper functioning of your immune system and are important for brain health. You can find healthy fats in all nuts and seeds, but also in avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Ensure consistency over the long term

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

On a final note, always remember that staying consistent with your new lifestyle will be the key to long-term success. This is a journey, not a destination, so you have to make sure that you’re able to adhere to the plant-based diet in the long run.

This can be a challenge if you’re new to the vegan game and haven’t yet mastered the art of meal prepping. Make sure to use a slow Sunday afternoon to prep the majority of your meals for the upcoming week, and you will have no problem sticking with a healthy plant-based diet no matter how hectic your life might be.

Wrapping up

Switching to a plant-based diet can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you take a calculated approach. Use these tips to transition to a plant-based diet quickly and easily, and most importantly, to make it an inextricable part of your lifestyle.


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
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Featured image photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash



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