Sunday, January 22, 2012
Welcome the Year of the Dragon!
There is excitement in the air. I feel kind of excited about the upcoming year of the Dragon. Learning what I can about lunar calendars, I realize now that they're not all built the same. The Muslim calendar has around 355 days in it. It's holidays take around thirty-six years to get back to the same time and place that they were before. That means that their holidays can find their way into any one of our four seasons here.
That is a little hard for me to wrap my brain around. I am a solar man. Living in the reality of the Gregorian calendar, I just take it for granted that holidays are going to show up at the same time every year, and occur in the same season every year. So, although I know little about the structure of the Chinese calendar-actually the lunar calendar observed by many Asian cultures-I took comfort finding out that the new year occurred on the second new moon after the Winter solstice, except for the rare instance in which it lands on the third new moon after the Winter solstice.
So, I can find this quiet comfort knowing that even though the Chinese lunar calendar may varyin its length, there will always be a one-to-one correspondence between the Chinese lunar calendar and the Gregorian solar calendar. I'm sure that settles your mind also.
Here, in my neighborhood, I'm already smelling the black powder, hearing these firecrackers going nonstop, watching the festive nature building up the little shopping malls. I walk up and down Grand Century Mall, and watch as the bakeries, the gift shops, and the jewelers enjoy increased business, as we build up to the new year holiday. These gift baskets wrapped in pastel colored cellophane make me feel like it's another Easter. Although approaching the mall today, I was holding my ears as hundreds of firecrackers were going off in rapid succession.
(younger children get to play with these caps that you get to throw on the ground that explode. They are nowhere near as noisy as the firecrackers but they do seem to have a lot of entertainment value for them.
I've always wondered about the arbitrary nature of holidays. I realize that enough people getting excited about any one day, kind of makes that day special, whether there's anything new or special about that day at all. I remember a man I used to work with, a self described Jewish atheist once told me," I do all of my drinking on Rosh Hashanah." I've never been very celebratory about any holiday, yet I always love gathering with my family. I also enjoy getting good night sleeps on New Year's Eve (Gregorian calendar).
By that account, I've always been confused by people who think it's especially important that I get my birthday off from work, or that I should have dinner with my family on Christmas Day, or that I should feel compelled to attend mass on the night of Christmas Eve versus attending the morning of Christmas Day. I believe that what makes these days special has nothing to do with the days themselves, so my family celebrates with me when we can. I just have to smile, and accept that some other people don't understand.
So, should you be celebrating right now, I wish you a Happy New Year!
Thank you for reading.