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Published: December 30th 2008
2009 in the Chinese Lunar Calendar is the "Year of the OX"
The OX symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under this sign are fortunate to be stable and persevering. The typical Ox is a tolerant person with a strong character. Ox people work hard without complaints at work or at home. They do not believe in get-rich-quick schemes.
TO MY LOVING FAMILY, TO MY WONDERFUL FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD, TO MY FORMER COLLEAGUES AND STUDENTS AT CORAL GABLES SR. HIGH SCHOOL, THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, AND REVERE HIGH SCHOOL IN BOSTON, AND TO MY CURRENT, KIND COLLEAGUES AND SWEET STUDENTS AT TAIZHOU TEACHERS COLLEGE IN CHINA:
IT IS TIME TO BEGIN ANOTHER YEAR OF LIFE. THIS PRESENTS THE SATISFYING OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS THE GRATITUDE FOR THE BLESSINGS OF SHARING A LIFE WITH SOME OF THE MOST WONDERFUL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. I AM REACHING THE AGE, WHERE EVERY YEAR IS A GIFT FROM GOD, PROVIDING VALUABLE OPPORTUNITIES TO ENRICH NOT ONLY ONE'S OWN LIFE, BUT ENHANCE THE LIFES OF OTHERS.
SO MANY OF YOU HAVE FILLED MY LIFE WITH JOY, HUMOR, EXCITEMENT, COURAGE, DETERMINATION, CURIOSITY, HAVING BEEN THE CATALYST FOR WHAT I PERCEIVE AS SOME OF MY LIFE'S SUCCESS. HOW DOES ONE SHOW PROPER GRATITUDE FOR SUCH BLESSINGS AND GIFTS THAT DO NOT BEAR ANY HOLIDAY-WRAPPING?
I CAN ONLY EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION FOR ALL YOU HAVE BEEN FOR ME AND ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR ME BY SAYING: "THANK YOU", "HERZLICHEN DANK", "MULTO GRACI", "MUCHAS GRACIAS", AND "XIE XIE".
I HAVE SAID THIS BEFORE, AND
Best wishes for the New Year.
Mr. Xu, the President of Taizhou Teachers College, wishes to express to hundreds, who reading my TravelBlog, his holiday greetings and much success and happiness in the "Year of the Ox". I am proud to say, that as of Dec. 31st 2008, my Travel Journal on line has received over 40,000 hits.
I CANNOT REPEAT IT OFTEN ENOUGH: "I AM A BETTER MAN BECAUSE OF YOU, AND MY LIFE HAS BEEN BLESSED BECAUSE OF YOU!!"
AND SO I WISH EACH OF YOU A WONDERFUL AND JOYFUL NEW YEAR 2009, FILLED WITH LOVE, GOOD HEALTH, PROSPERITY AND SUCCESS. MAY YOU CONTINUE TO INSPIRE OTHERS THIS COMING NEW YEAR 2009, IN THE CHINESE LUNAR CALENDAR, "THE YEAR OF THE OX", THE WAY YOU HAVE MOTIVATED, INFLUENCED AND ENCOURAGED ME.
An important part of Chinese culture and tradition, festivals are generally happy and colorful affairs, that re-affirm ancient beliefs and customs. The biggest and most important festival is the "Spring Festival", or "Chinese Lunar New Year". It is the West's Christmas and New Year's Eve rolled into one. From sun up to sun down, this is a time when the whole country throws itself into celebrating and eating. **(Please re-read my last TravelBlog #108 for a description of traditions and customs of the "Spring Festival".)**
The "Spring Festival" brings families together for several days. The home is cleaned and everyone dresses up in new clothes. Decorations are put up and gifts are exchanged. The festivities are climaxed by a brilliant display of
A whole herd of Oxen for the Lunar New Year (2009).
In all of the "trinket" shops, representations in glass or metals or wood etc. of this year's Sign of the Zodiac, the Ox, can be bought as gifts for the desks and offices of that someone special.
pyrotechnics. The festival elements and rituals are encouraged to bring good luck and prosperity. During this time, all debts should be settled by the Chinese New Year. The celebrations last 2 weeks.
No one is quite sure exactly when or where the festival originated. As I mentioned in the last TravelBlog, legend has it that once upon a time, there was a monster called "Nian", that attacked Chinese villages every spring, eating anything that came its way: people, animals, plants, and even buildings. One spring, villagers hung red paper on the doors and threw bamboo on a fire when "Nian" arrived. The monster was so startled by the bright colors and laud crackling noise of the burning bamboo that it turned and fled. Today the word "nian" is the Chinese word for year.
Since that day, Chinese people hang red paper signs and lanterns outside their homes and enjoy making loud noises on New Year's Eve. Firecrackers replaced bamboo after gunpowder was invented and the main idea is the louder and bigger, the better.
In the days leading up to the "Spring Festival", every household gets a thorough cleaning. It cannot be done on New Year's Day
The cutest Ox I have every seen.
The Oxen can be purchased in all shapes and sizes. They can look fierce or sweet, as in this little Ox-trinket. These can become quite expensive, since Gold is one of the metals used in its creation.
itself, since it might sweep away the year's good fortune. Breaking dishes or using sharp objects is also seen as potentially unlucky.
The holiday is a time for family celebration and nearly every university student or migrant worker heads home. It will seem like the whole country is on the move and is going somewhere at this time, whether on their way home or taking advantage of the long holiday to do some traveling.
On New Year's Eve, once the family has been gathered, food becomes a central consideration and a large number of delicacies are prepared.
Children receive red envelopes containing gifts of money, and are usually distributed by family elders to young unmarried relatives.
According to the "Chinese Zodiac", the Year of 2009 is the "Year of the Ox". You may recognize some noted "Western Ox People": Heather Locklear, Jane Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Margaret Thatcher, Meg Ryan, Meryl Streep, Princess Diana, Vivien Leigh and George Clooney.
If you are born in the years 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, and of course this new Chinese Lunar New Year, you are born in the "Year of the Ox".
It is said,
Beautiful but expensive!
Expensive gold-laced New Year's trinkets in all shapes and sizes are offered to the Chinese consumers. The most sought after will be those representing the "Ox". These are gifts given throughout the year and are precious works of art.
that people born in the "Year of the Ox" are patient, speak little, and inspire confidence in others. They tend, however, to be eccentric, and bigoted, and they anger easily. They have fierce tempers and although they speak little, when they do they are quite eloquent. Ox people are mentally and physically alert. Generally easy-going, they can be remarkable stubborn, and they hate to fail or be opposed.
The twelve animals of Chinese astrology are:
1. The Rat, a bringer of wealth and a clever protector; 2. Tiger, the king of animals in China; 3. the Dragon, the symbol of China, its emperors, and the positive "Yang" element; 4. the Horse, the symbol of freedom; 5. the Monkey, associated with fun and genius; 6. the Dog, the lucky symbol in Chinese mythology; 7. the "OX", known for honesty and hard work; 8. the Rabbit, associated with longevity; 9. the Snake, known to be clever and cunning; 10. the Sheep, signifying peace and creativity; 11. the Rooster, known for courage, assertiveness, and reliability; and 12. the Pig, associated with virility and fertility.
Each year is associated with one of these twelve animal signs. These repeat in a cycle. In
The Happy Buddha laced in Gold.
To appreciate how beautiful these gold laced art pieces are, I have selected this larger display of the happy Buddha. These can cost many thousands of Yuan, and surely will make the recipient a very lucky and happy person.
Chinese astrology, people born under a specific animal are supposed to have some of the characteristics attributed to the animal.
After the "Year of the OX", this year 2009, will come the "Year of the TIGER" in 2010.
"The Ox" is the sign of property through fortitude and hard work. This powerful sign is a born leader, being quite dependable and possessing an innate ability to achieve great things. Such people are dependable, calm, and modest. Like their animal namesake, the Ox is unswervingly patient, tireless in their work, and capable of enduring any amount of hardship without complaint.
Ox people need peace and quiet to work through their ideas, and when they have set their mind on something it is hard for them to be convinced otherwise. An Ox person has a very logical mind and is extremely systematic in whatever they do, even if it is without imagination. These people speak little but are extremely intelligent. When they do speak, they are articulate and eloquent.
People born under the influence of the Ox are kind, caring souls, logical, positive, filled with common sense and with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Security is
Holiday decorations in the center of Taizhou.
Swan Lake is the theme in front of the up-scale "Golden Eagle" Shopping Mall for this holiday season. The mall rivals any of the malls you may visit in an American city.
their main pre-occupation in life, and they are prepared to toil long and hard in order to provide a warm, comfortable and stable nest for themselves and their families. Strong-minded, stubborn, individualistic, the majority are highly intelligent individuals who don't take kindly to being told what to do.
The Ox works hard, patiently, and methodically, with original intelligence and thought. These people enjoy helping others. Behind this tenacious, laboring, and self-sacrificing exterior lies an active mind.
The Ox is not extravagant, and the thought of living off credit cards or being in debt makes them nervous. The possibility of taking a serious risk could cause the Ox sleepless nights.
Ox people are truthful and sincere, and the idea of wheeling and dealing in a competitive world is distateful to them. They are rarely driven by the prospect of financial gain. These people are always welcome because of their honesty and patience. They have many friends, who appreciate the fact that the Ox people are wary of new trends, although every now and then they can be encouraged to try something new.
The Ox people are sociable and relaxed when they feel secure, but when the occasionally
Hapy holiday greetings from another "Little Emperor" and "China's Future"
While posing in front of "Swan Lake", I was introduced to this beautiful face by his adoring mother. Check out the winter-outfit, from shoes to hat :-)
dark cloud looms over such people, they engage all the trials of the whole world and seek solutions for them.
Their negative traits include being petty, inflexible, possessive, dogmatic, gullible, stubborn, critical, intolerant and materialistic.
But their positive traits are being responsible, dependable, honest, caring, honorable, intelligent, industrious and practical.
A child that is born this year, during the "Year of the Ox", will likely be unusually tough and can endure hardship. If it is a boy, he will become a rugged individualist and begin to speak late and rather settle arguments with the fists. Stubborn and unyielding, the child can turn the house upside down when he/she puts his mind to it. This child is not the fussy type but will be adamant about the few concessions that it demands.
The child will not resent discipline and in fact will welcome having a schedule fixed. They may insist having the meals served at the same time each day, but will not be particular about food. The child thrives on regularity; knowing where everything is and what is expected of it, will bring a sense of security. A girl especially, born under this sign, will go for
He completes this holiday photo.
In his warm winter clothing, this handsome young man wanted to pose for me in front of the Swan Lake display.
order and neatness at home.
The Ox youngster enjoys taking charge when mother or teacher is away and is stern and unsympathetic to offenders. The child can and usually will give you an unbiased opinion, as he is not easily influenced or taken in by flattery. Instead of bribing or begging the child to do something unpleasant, it will be more effective to simply tell him, "It is an order!" The child is not argumentative by nature, but you must gain its respect before it will obey you.
The youngster relishes teaching younger children and will show remarkable patitience and perseverance in waiting for what he wants. Being the strong, silent type, he may not readily reveal his feelings. The Ox child can be deeply hurt and no one may even suspect it, because the Ox youngster is a very private person. Although he may put up a blunt, strong-willed and loyal front, the Ox is terrible naive about the realities of life; and so the child needs to be respected in this respect and it will heavily rely on the moral support from his parents, teachers and family.
At school, the Ox youngster may be an
The future of China in my arms.
China's continued growth and success, as that in the West, will be consumer driven. In my arms is one of China's youngest and so friendly consumer.
exemplary student as he is not one to lock horns with the authorities. His serious and no-nonsense outlook on life makes him avoid joking or clowning around. The child should be encouraged to express his emotions and develop his sense of humor.
Above all, he will be reliable and responsible. He will win the respect of elders as well as peers. The Ox child will be an outstanding example of both an excellent leader and follower and perform all duties well.
So, China will now enter the "Year of the OX", and it will be interesting to follow the progress, trials and tribulations, as the "Opening" and "Reform" of the Chinese Nation continues.
This past year, 2008, brought both, enormous suffering and great joy to the people of China:
I remember the most severe Winter of the past 50 years, the difficulties surrounding the "Autonomous" Region of Tibet, the devastating earthquake in the Province of Sichuan, China's spectacular and crowning event of the year, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the financial crisis, that is now affecting this nation as well.
What new events will China experience and the world witness in the year 2009, the"Year
A "high-five" from my new friend.
I would love to experience his China, when he is my age.
of the Ox"??? Stay tuned!!
(OF THE 109 TRAVELBLOGS I HAVE PUBLISHED, THERE ARE 6 YOU MAY HAVE MISSED. FOR SOME REASON, THE NUMBER OF HITS, ON MY COUNT, ARE NOTICEABLY LESS FOR THESE 6 THAN THE REST, YET THEY CONTAIN SOME GREAT PHOTOS, AND SOME INFORMATIVE COMMENTARY.)
MAY I RECOMMEND YOU VISIT THE FOLLOWING ENTRIES IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO:
# 83, Beijing: The Ming Tombs, Part 1, "The Spirit Way", The Grand Avenue leading to the Emperor's Tombs.
# 84, Beijing: The Ming Tombs, Part 2, "The Tombs and Chambers" of the Emperor
#102, LuShan Mountain, A UNESCO World Heritage Site
#103, Respect Teachers and Value Education, A traditional Chinese Virtue
#104, Sept. 2008 Military Training at Taizhou Teachers College
#106, An Official Visit by New Port News, Virginai; Taizhou's Sister City
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