On February 19th, China—along with its neighboring countries—is celebrating the coming of the Year of the Goat. If you’re currently not in East Asia, fear not, there are Chinese communities around the world where you can join in on the festivities, and you can always celebrate within your own home.
The Goat: All you need to know
Have you just discovered that you or a friend are a Goat and don’t know how to celebrate? Well we hope this post will give you ample ideas to celebrate adequately.
羊 (yáng): Goat, sheep
Lucky colors: brown, red, purple
Lucky numbers: 2, 7
Lucky flowers: carnation, primrose (Celebration idea: Gift friends red and purple carnations or primroses in groups of 2 and 7 flowers!)
Lucky direction: north
Year of Birth: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027 (Remember the zodiac trick? Learn someone’s age by asking their Chinese zodiac. For example, if you’ve just met a horse, they are either 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, or 90 years old.)
Personality traits: People born in the year of the goat are commonly believed to be gentle, mild-mannered, honest, shy, stable, sympathetic, and brimming with a strong sense of kindheartedness. Although they look gentle on the surface, Goats are tough on the inside, always insisting on their own opinions in their minds. They inhibit strong inner resilience and excellent defensive instincts. Although goats prefer to be in groups, they do not like to be at the center of attention. They tend to be on the quiet side, most likely sifting through their thoughts. Although Goats don’t mind spending money on fashionable things that give them top-notch appearances, Goats are not snobbish.
New Year Traditions: 6 ways to celebrate
Whether you choose to stay home or relocate to your nearest Chinatown, these traditions will help you get the party started. Although traditions vary widely between countries, regions, and households, these traditions are fairly standard.
1. A big family dinner is standard on the evening before New Year’s Day. This night is referred to as 除夕;(chúxī). Two years ago, as the world celebrated the Year of the Snake, Waygo wrote a blog post about food traditions during the Chinese New Year, including eating Mandarin oranges, longevity noodles, and dumplings.
2. Spring Cleaning! Chinese cultures clean their houses for the coming of the new year, taking away ill-fortunes and clearing space for incoming good fortunes.
3. Windows and doors are always decorated with red paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity.”
4. Don’t forget to pack your eag plugs! Firecrackers and fireworks are everywhere, not only all night long, but also all week long. Listen to this video Waygo took last night in Shanghai:
5. Gifts of cash and coins are given in red paper envelopes, oftentimes by the elderly or married to the youth and unmarried. This act is called 讨紅包 (tǎo hóngbāo) and it dates back to the Qin Dynasty, when elders would gift stringed coins to children to ward of sickness.
6. If you are a Goat, many suggest wearing red. Why you ask? Well it’s believed that during one’s zodiac year, or 本命年 (bĕnmìngnián), it’s likely to encounter bad luck. The best way to avoid misfortune is to wear red clothing and/or red jewelry, especially effective if you purchase the gear for yourself.
Goat Jokes: to turn a baaaaaad day into a goat one:
You goat to be kidding me!
Here we goat again…
For goat’s sake, that’s enough!
Happy New Year! or 新年快乐 (xīnnián kuàilè)!
P.S. Looking to learn more about Chinese New Years, including the myth of how it all began? Check out Matthew Ho’s guest blog post, A Guide to the Chinese New Year, from a few years back.