February 10, 2013 is the first day of the year of the Water Snake in the lunar calendar. In China the new year is celebrated for 15 days. People prepare for the new year by cleaning their homes to clear out bad luck, settling debts, and setting out new clothes. On new year’s eve, red decorations are hung and firecrackers are lit to scare away the old and welcome the new, and on new year’s day families gather for meals that include special holiday foods and treats. New year’s celebrations close at the full moon with a lantern festival.
According to the Chinese zodiac, those born in the lunar years 1929, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, and 2013 are a Snake sign. Snakes are intelligent, intuitive, cunning, wise, introspective, and graceful. They are hard workers and are known to excel in business and be financially secure. People born as a snake appreciate beauty and the arts, and they thrive in calm, quiet environments. Snakes can also be vain, devious and suspicious, and they tend to do too much on their own without asking for or accepting help from others.
In Portland, my husband and I often celebrate the Chinese new year by going to eat dim sum, and then visiting the Lan Su Chinese Garden to see the Lee Association Lion Dancers. Last year we went to the lantern festival at the gardens, which was magical (and freezing cold). It was a clear wintery night in the low 20s with a bright full moon, and the garden was alight with glowing lanterns. The Lan Su Gardens host a variety of lectures and family activities for the new year.
I wish you Xin Nian Kuai Le (or Happy New Year!) I hope the year of the snake brings you fulfillment, happiness and many opportunities for growth and healing.