2015: The Year of the Goat

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The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is based on the Chinese lunar calendar and begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Each year is ascribed one of the 12 astrological animal signs. This year it falls on Thursday, February 19 in the year of the Goat.

Is it a Sheep, Goat or Ram?

While many people claim that the 8th Chinese astrological animal sign is a Goat, the truth is that the Chinese symbol for the word, 羊 (yáng), can refer to a Sheep, Goat or Ram, causing some confusion. However, the majority of the Chinese community believes that the zodiac animal is in fact the Goat, supported by the fact that the Chinese zodiac was invented by the Han nationality, in which goats were widely raised. (1)

What does the Goat mean?

The year of the Goat has fallen on the years 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and 2015. The belief is that those who were born in these years demonstrate the qualities of the Goat; that is: most comfortable at home, prefer peace, frank and honest, artistic but resistant to change, etc. (2)

During the Chinese New Year festivities, which can typically last 15 days, decorations reflect images of the Goat and people who were born in one of those years are especially conscious about their actions in an attempt to bring themselves good luck.

What are some “lucky” Chinese traditions?

The color red is always the main color for the New Year as it is said to be a color of fortune and success. Red lanterns can be seen hanging just about anywhere. Red envelopes holding gifts of money are given to children or retired adults. People even wear red underwear!

Fish is commonly eaten since the Chinese word for fish (鱼 yú /yoo/) sounds like the word for surplus (余 yú). Chinese dumplings are also served because their shape tends to resemble the ancient form of Chinese money. (3)

Some people refrain from cleaning their hair during the first three days of the New Year to avoid “washing away” the good luck.

Will you be celebrating the Chinese New Year?

What are some traditions that you will do to welcome in the year of the Goat?

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