Yes! it's "tikoy" and "hong bao" time once again. Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year, or the Year of the Ox and is celebrated by Chinese all over the world to mark the Chinese New Year. It's the main and biggest festival of the year and is a time of lavish spending, when loved ones exchange "hong bao" or red envelopes stuffed with money and where "tikoys" or moon cakes are aplenty.
But this year's festivities are more subdued which could have been caused by the economic slump. Although the global international economic crisis sort of dampened this traditionally festive celebration, it is still celebrated with the feisty lion and dragon dances and with ear-thumping firecrackers. The bull has to make a grand entrance to usher the world to the Year of the Ox.
Chinese legend has it that the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest --- whoever reach the opposite bank of the river would receive their years according to their finish.
All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped into the water. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped on his back and as the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox's back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last. The order of the years are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
Ox symbolizes calm, hard work, resolve and tenacity. Those born on the year of the ox are considered thick-skinned and hard-working, patient and caring. They are quiet but stubborn. They are said to stand by their convictions and are dominant and has a strong sense of determination.
Among the famous "oxes" include US President Barack Obama, former U.S. President Richard Nixon, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, Meg Ryan, George Clooney, Heather Locklear, Richard Gere, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda and Juliette Lewis.
For this year, many Chinese astrologers, seers and fortunetellers say that the Ox looks very "un-bullish" and this is because of the lack of "fire". Chinese feng shui mystics believe that one of the five elements (木Wood, 火Fire, 土Earth, 金Metal, and 水Water) form the basis of the universe and is necessary for financial prosperity and they say that fire is not in the lunar year that begins today.
Whatever the fortune tellers and seers say, "fire" or "no fire", I will put my trust in the Word of God that declares of His faithfulness to all those who put their faith and trust in Him. I know that He will provide for all my needs according to His riches in glory! I will look forward to this year as a year of blessing and prosperity!
In whatever manner you say it "Kong Hsi Fa Chai'" or "Kung Hei Fat Choy" or "Gong Xi Fa Cai", let me greet you all a Happy "MOO" Year from the coastal desert by the Red Sea.
I'm still waiting for my "tikoy" and "hong bao".