January 1 is a ridiculous time to start the new year. It’s cold, dark, and filled with post-holiday depression. Lunar New Year comes flashing in red and gold when the trees are starting to flower (in California anyway). All the decorations in Chinatown remind me that this is my year: I am a pig (I am a boar? It doesn’t sound any better that way), which will presumably stand me in good stead when I get around to looking for a job.
I have a mug printed all over with helpful Pig information. According to this cup, we Pig people are “a likeable character with a cheerful and helpful disposition – always ready to help others. They love harmony and rarely become angry except when others take advantage of their good nature. Pig people crave for luxuries and just love the life of ease and self-indulgence.” It’s like looking in a mirror. It was printed in Scotland, so I know it’s all true. My Chinese name is Zhu, the sign of honesty, which is nice but not as good as my pirate name, which is Diego the Bitter. Suggested careers for me are vet, dentist, caterer, artist, florist, window-dresser, designer (hey . . . what are you trying to say?), and student. And with thoroughness my mug notes that dark blue is my color and lapis-lazuli, coral, and beryl are my stones.
All very nice. Of course, if someone analyzed my character based on my astrological sign (Libra, in case you’re curious) I would politely edge away. Such is the beauty of a cultural system one is not raised with. You’re free to pick and choose all the fun colorful parts and ignore all the underlying unpleasant assumptions. Unmooring the holidays is the first step toward turning the culture into something else.
Whatever the something else turns out to be, here’s hoping it involves good health, prosperity, and most of all peace.