Thursday, February 25, 2010

Year of the Tiger

Sunday, I met my friend Tian under a very cold rain to celebrate the year of the Tiger in Trafalgar Square. Year 4708 for Chinese. The Chinese calendar is lunar, and it is celebrated in countries with significant Han Chinese populations and cultures with whom Chinese have had extensive interactions, including Tibet. The festivities of the so-called Spring Festival starts on the first day of the first month and it ends on the fifteenth day , called Lantern Festival. Traditionally, it was the day when young women, chaperoned by matchmakers, were going in the streets in hope to find a suitable husband. Nowadays it is interpreted as Chinese Valentine's day. Chinese New Year falls on different days of the Gregorian calendar, every year. But it always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The festival ends on the second full moon after the winter solstice and marks the beginning of spring. New year marks the beginning of a new year for a specific calendar. Various cultures around the globe have celebrated the New Year around Spring, such as Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, which falls on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox. Check it out on SOAS website ( This makes more sense to the gardener, than the worldwide used 1 January - as in the Gregorian Calendar, which continues the Roman calendar's practice since King Numa Pompilius around 700 BC. We ended up having diner in Phoenix Palace, which was like a trip to Asia. The message in my fortune cookie read " Your wish will be granted after along delay". What wish? Hurry up spring!

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