Culture Corner #6: Happy New Year (Part 1)!
Welcome to the Culture Corner
Welcome back to the Culture Corner with Tao Jones. If you’re new to the Culture Corner, this is a little column that is your guide to the world. It’s great to be a hero, but if you don’t understand what it is you’re trying to save, then it’s a little harder to appreciate it. That’s what I’m here for. Each column, I’m going to take a part of Chinese culture in our games and explain it in a little more depth.
What Day is the New Year?
Happy new year, Zentia players! I hope you all had a great weekend and that nothing important was folded, spindled, or mutilated during the revelry. We wish you the best in the new year. Of course, this article isn’t being written just to wish you all a happy new year. If you wanted that, you could go talk to just about anyone. You’re here to learn a little something, right? And I’ve got a feeling you probably already know what it is.
As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s a separate Chinese New Year, though because it isn’t celebrated only in China, it’s also called the Lunar New Year. The Lunar part refers to the Chinese calendar being based on the phases of the moon. More specifically, every month starts on the first day of the dark moon phase. This creates years that aren’t exactly the same length as that of the Gregorian calendar we all use, so the Chinese New Year ends up falling on a different day every year. However, it usually ends up falling somewhere between late January and mid February. This year, the Chinese New Year will fall on February 3, marking the official start of the Year of the Rabbit.
The Chinese Zodiac
That’s another thing I’d like to talk about today, actually. I’m sure everyone’s aware that the Chinese Zodiac, known as the sh?ngxiào (??) associates every year with a particular animal, but it’d be good to hear a bit more about them. I’ll start you off with a basic list. A few of these are ambiguous, since when the tradition of the zodiac became established, the same word was used for what we now consider to be separate animals. There are twelve animals in all:
Twelve types of animals, rather. Don’t try to act cute.
The rat (or mouse.)
The sheep (or goat.)
Every year is associated with each of those in order, so 2010 was the Year of the Tiger, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, and 2012 will be the Year of the Dragon. 2013 would be the Year of the Snake, but because Earth’s crust will crack like an egg, be torn apart by earthquakes, explode, get sucked into a black hole, then finally collide with a planet known only as Nibiru on December 21, 2012, it seems silly to keep counting years after.
Don’t count on Santa to make the usual rounds on the 24th either. He’ll have other things on his mind.
But let’s say a few of us manage to survive the world-shaking cataclysm four days before Christmas next year. Eventually, it’ll be the Year of the Pig, then it loops back to Year of the Rat after. People born in each year are said to have certain character traits. For instance, people born in the Year of the Rabbit are thought to be good friends and shy. In this way, it’s a lot like the Western zodiac, where the time you’re born is supposed to describe your personality and outlook on life. Of course, like the Western zodiac, it’s also a little vague and untested by the scientific method. It’s great to learn about other cultures, but don’t think they’re somehow more true and mystical just because they’re from a foreign place!
Getting back on topic, you might wonder why every year is paired with an animal. It’s entirely possible you might be wondering about this because I suggested it right now, but I’m going to answer it anyway. But I'll answer it in the Zentia forums. Follow the link to get the full story and join the discussion