On Feb. 19--and the days following—many Angelenos will participate in Lunar New Year celebrations, and ring in the Year of Sheep.
Although it is often called the Chinese New Year, the event is a global one, with massive celebrations staged throughout Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
When it comes to the zodiac of the lunar calendar, people are united by their birth year, rather than month of birth as in the Western zodiac. The lunar calendar has 12 signs in total so the calendar resets itself every 12 years.
So what should we expect during 2015, the Year of the Sheep? According to experts, it is a time when we should pay careful attention to nurturing our family and close friendships. While the Year of the Horse (2014) was a year of great energy and turbulence, the Year of the Sheep should be used to recover from last year’s chaos, while also cultivating art and creativity.
People born during the year of the Sheep are considered to be kind-hearted, polite and loyal, with a special affinity for art and beauty. Noted celebrities born under the sign of the Sheep include Mark Twain, Rudolf Valentino and Nicole Kidman.
When it comes to recognizing the Chinese New Year, there’s no right way to celebrate, although reconnecting with family almost always plays a key role. In China, nearly the entire country takes a two-week vacation to spend the days leading up to the New Year paying respect to ancestors, cleaning houses from top to bottom, and spending time with family at colossal celebratory feasts.
In the New Year, celebrants head outdoors to join in noisy public spectacles. Sound and fireworks are important, a tradition passed down from ancient times, when the Chinese believed these tools could be used to help keep monsters from attacking their villages.
To host your own Lunar New Year celebration, be sure to decorate using liberal splashes of red, which is considered an auspicious color in China. Another key decorating element is the presentation of lucky money, packaged in red New Year’s envelopes. Although lucky money is generally given to children and unmarried people, it can also be bestowed as a token of appreciation or goodwill.
A variety of Asian décor, including Chinese Fortune Sticks and paper lanterns, as well as dishware, cookbooks and condiments can be found at Cost Plus, at the Original Farmers Market.
Folks interested in a slight lower key celebration can visit any Farmers Market Asian restaurant, including China Depot, La Korea, Peking Kitchen, Singapore’s Banana Leaf and Sushi a Go Go to create their very own celebratory meal.
Or of course, stop by our post office and pick up a sheet of commemorative Year of the Sheep stamps.
Photo caption: The Year of the Sheep falls on 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039. On Feb. 7, 2015, the U.S. Postal Service will launch a commemorative Year of the Sheep stamp // © 2015 USPS