The Year of the Horse has come to a close and the Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram has begun. I write the three different animals because there seems to be a small debate as to which animal it is officially. Most of Chinese history is found in their written characters and this exact source is what people are using to decide which animal it is.
I found a really good explanation and have added it below:
What is a 羊 yáng? Therein lies a problem. Look up a Chinese-English dictionary and you will find that yáng means ‘sheep’. But yáng does not actually mean ‘sheep’ at all. To find the real meaning, you need to look up a monolingual Chinese dictionary. The definition of yáng is as follows (from Xiandai han’yu cidian):
A ruminant mammal, generally with horns on its head. Divided into a number of types, including 山羊 shānyáng, 绵羊 miányáng, 羚羊 língyáng, etc.
A little further investigation reveals that:
山羊 shānyáng (‘mountain yáng‘) = goat
绵羊 miányáng (‘cotton yáng‘) = sheep
(credit to: http://www.cjvlang.com/Spicks/sheepgoat.html)
Tim and I discussed it and reached the conclusion that it should be the Year of the Ram because this animal embodies the good qualities of both a sheep and a goat. A sheep can appear to be a weak, stupid animal whereas a goat is known for being quite boisterous and forward. Thus, the Ram has the majestic horns of the strong goat yet the lovely wool of the docile sheep (my words, not Tim’s!).
However officially it seems to be the Year of a (rather fluffy looking) Goat, so Happy New Year of the Goat!
The first half of the day was chilled as Cathy took the two kids to see her grandfather as part of tradition. Once they got back I started helping Cathy again by making Tang Yuan (the glutinous rice balls) and she began on the food for dinner. Soon enough it was six o’clock and people were arriving. Cathy’s parents arrived followed by her two Aunties and their husbands including a son around my age. As expected, there was loads of food for dinner! We had soup to start it off followed by a range of dishes accompanied with rice. There was Vietnamese caramelised pork, bamboo shoots with meat (delicious), the green vegetable is choi sum. The big fish in the middle is a type of hot pot. It is tradition to have Hot Pot on New Year’s Day here. Yet this type is one that is ready prepared and presented beautifully that you reheat. Normally Hot Pot is a few bowls of flavoured boiling water and you put in a selection of vegetables and meat to cook. Anyway, this one was delicious. I even indulged myself by having a goose foot! Honestly, it is yummy. If you were given the choice between a foot and one of the many insects they eat, I’d go for the foot any day!
Another tradition is giving red envelopes out, they are called ‘Lai see’ in Cantonese. I was very fortunate enough to be given some by Cathy and the other family members. They say that if you receive one you have to say something to bring good luck as well as ‘thank you’. I just said happy new year because I don’t know enough Cantonese words at all! But I feel really blessed to have received them!
Today, the second day, we are heading to Kowloon side of Hong Kong to attend a big family gathering and to watch the firework show! I am already anticipating that there will be sooooo much food. It’s also pretty sunny today which bodes well for visibility later. I don’t know whether to wear my Chinese dress though. It seems only children wear the traditional clothing so I feel like a complete 老外 (foreigner) trying to be Chinese if I wear it! Maybe I will.. Or maybe I’ll take a spare set of clothes with me. Although I am adapting to having people stare at me, it’s harder to get used to if I’m in an social environment with them rather than just being stared at on the street. When it’s more personal, it’s more difficult…
I’ve had a lot of fun this morning reading about the different Chinese zodiacs. This website has the history of how it came to be, the characteristics of each sign and the prediction of what the Year of the Goat will bring to them. Mine, funnily enough, says that I should be really careful with my health this year…! I think my broken foot speaks for itself in relation to that…. If you’re interested, have a looksie here: Chinese Zodiac Signs
Also. Three weeks gone and two more to go until I can walk again! Yay! Hope you all have a wonderful day ❤