Spring Festival – aka Chinese New Year is upon us, and as the Year of the Snake slithers away, the Year of the Horse arrives. And this time, to be absolutely accurate, it is a wood horse – a green wood horse. Many people in the West don’t appreciate that the Chinese zodiac (shengxiao 生肖) is much more complex than just the twelve creatures that symbolise each year.
What ever the year is, be it Horse, Ram, Tiger etc each particular year the animal will have one of five specific characteristics – metal, wood, water, fire and earth. So you might be a metal pig whereas someone born 12 years earlier or later might be a fire pig.
From a personal point of view this year of the Horse is important as our family is expecting a little foal in early summer – well, not a foal exactly – a new grandson. As well as that, our son is a Horse (an earth Horse as it happens) so it is an auspicious year for him too.
According to those who are expert in reading Chinese horoscopes our new grandchild will be likely to have a carefree, open nature, be energetic and trustworthy with a great desire for freedom and self-expression. He will be very fond of travel, enjoy being center of attention and seek praise. On the downside, he will rarely listen to advice(!), be somewhat hot-tempered and stubborn and dislike being constrained. Hmm, we shall see.
The horse holds an important place in Chinese culture, and features in literature, proverbs, painting and sculpture. One of the most famous of all ancient Chinese bronzes is that of the Galloping Horse standing on the back of a Swallow 马踏飞燕 This depicts a fabled horse from Chinese mythology, ‘a thousand li horse’ known as a qianlima 千里馬 which can gallop so fast it covers 1000 li (400kms) in a single day’.
There is a Chinese proverb: 一马当先 ‘the horse gallops at the front’. So I am looking forward to the year ahead and hope that it fulfills all its promise.
Xin Nian Hao 新年好 to you all!