Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Gong Xi Fa Ca!

Gong Xi Fa Ca! drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer (colour saturation)

Gong Xi Fa Ca! That’s the traditional Chinese New Year greeting that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin. The first day of the Chinese New Year – which begins at midnight on January 23, 2012 – is the most important of Chinese holidays, celebrated by over 1.3 billion people in China and by millions of ethnic Chinese around the world. It’s a celebration that lasts for 15 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2012, it’s the Year of the Dragon.

Gong Xi Fa Ca! drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012 

The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere (such as Toronto).

Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors. These include Korean, Bhutanese and Vietnamese cultures. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decorations, material, food, and clothing -- even going into debt.

Gong Xi Fa Ca! drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer (colour inversion)

It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans their house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for incoming good luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red coloured paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes.

Gong Xi Fa Ca! drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer ("posterization")

The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone. Although the Chinese calendar traditionally does not use continuously numbered years, outside China its years are often numbered from the reign of the Yellow Emperor. But at least three different years numbered 1 are now used by various scholars, making the year beginning in AD 2012 the "Chinese Year" 4710, 4709, or 4649.

Living in Toronto with its huge Asian population, means that I have often been caught up in the celebrations of Chinese New Year during my residence here.  I have even tried the traditional Chinese treats served during the 12 or so days that the New Year is celebrated (I never knew that bean curd could be made into a delicious sweet!).

This Year of the Dragon is especially poignant for me as I was born in the Year of the Dragon all those many, many years ago.  This is the 6th Year of the Dragon of my lifetime.  The next one will be in 2024.  Will I still be here then?  All I know is that when the good God is ready, He will call me Home.  Meanwhile, I will enjoy reminding everyone that the Year of the Dragon is my year!


Keeping to the theme of the Chinese New Year, let me show you some interesting drawings I came across recently on the Internet.  You may have already seen them, of course, but just in case you haven't...
Some artist has taken the continents and islands and used them to create the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.  While I certainly put no faith in zodiacs of any kind, I am impressed with the work it took to create these designs.  Although in retrospect, I wonder if the artist is trying to tell the rest of the world that all the property on the earth will eventually be owned by China!




Boar (Pig)



Suki and Sallie Update:

I have revised my earlier decision!

I have decided that if this lady, to whom I have offered Suki (and who really seems like a great candidate), turns down my offer, I am going to give keeping Suki another try. I realized yesterday how I have allowed my fears to suddenly drive me into retreat without even making an effort to fight. This is so unlike me and I do not enjoy the way it feels. While I do realize that there are problems with keeping Suki, these are problems that quite possibly can be dealt with creatively.

I have discovered over the past few days, for example, that if I establish sleep patterns that are more like a cat’s, I seem to be able to get enough sleep to feel rested and also avoid the problem of having Suki awaken me during the night when I am trying to get my full quota of sleep -- which is when I so often fall.  Trying to get to sleep and stay asleep for at least six hours straight is being a bit unrealistic at my age, cat or no cat.  It seems to me to be much wiser to sleep when I feel sleepy, sleeping until I feel really rested, and then getting up and being active again. 
As for the litter box, I am experimenting with using various chairs and stools to help me overcome the strain of bending over and straightening up. I haven’t found the perfect fit yet, but I am working on it.

I feel as though I must make the effort. I have been a fighter and survivor all my life and this just feels too much like giving up.

Of course, should I have another bad fall in the near future, I will quite possibly go back to plan A!  As you can imagine, however, I really want to find a way to keep Suki in my life -- and if I could ask her, I think she would probably say that she really wants to continue to share my life!

May the peace of God be with us all.

1 comment:

Amra Porobic said...

What a beatiful dragon you draw!

You seem to have a good plan with Suki.

Stay safe,