Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger

Feb 1st 2022 marks Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. A year ruled by one of the most glorious big cats around sounds like a pretty good year to us, but what does the year of the Tiger actually symbolise in Chinese tradition?

There are 12 animals within the traditional Chinese Zodiac, each with unique characteristics thought to be given to those born in the year of each animal. Instead of breaking the zodiac down into months, Chinese culture dedicates an entire year to each animal, with each species thought to have been originally called to race against each other by the Jade Emperor. The story goes that all the animals in the world were invited to race, but it was the 12 of the zodiac that turned up and as a reward, the Emperor named a year after each one. 

The year of the Tiger symbolises enthusiasm, courage, ambition, leadership, confidence and charisma. People born in the year of the Tiger can also be characterised as unpredictable and overindulgent. It’s thought that wearing red underwear and socks will ward off any of the Tiger’s misfortunes. Other lucky colours for the Tigers are thought to be blue, grey and orange and lucky numbers are considered 1, 3 and 4. 

Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, comes with many celebrations including street parades and traditional dress. Lion and dragon dances and authentic cuisine form a huge part of the festivities, and can continue for up to 2 weeks into the New Year. 

And although there will be plenty of celebrations to see in the New Year, there are also some interesting taboos and superstitions that are traditionally thought to bring bad luck and should be avoided on the first day of celebrations.

These include;

 

  • taking medicine 
  • eating porridge 
  • doing laundry
  • washing your hair
  • sweeping
  • the giving of certain gifts, such as scissors or clocks. 

 

We often refer to our favourite domesticated friends as tiny tigers, but is it really true that our house felines are direct descendants of these majestic beasts? Studies have found that our mini moggies do share around 95.6% of their DNA with Tigers, the biggest cats in the kingdom. And whilst it’s clear to see some comparisons can be drawn between their behaviours and appearance, the furballs we share our homes with today although related are not direct descendants that have evolved from the big guys. Distant relatives maybe, and albeit without the mighty roar. The way cats have evolved over the years seems to be split between those that purr and those that roar, and our floofs fall into that purry category we all know and love. Imagine being woken up with a giant roar at 4am rather than a rumbling purr ball?!

Though we did get to wondering why there isn’t a year of the cat in the Chinese calendar, maybe our four legged friends were too busy snoozing all those years ago to turn up and race? We see cats as pretty prevalent little beings across Chinese culture, the lucky waving cat being the perfect example (we even chose it to go on our Republic boxes), but it really was down to the cat naps leaving them left out of the zodiac. The tale tells that the Rat had promised to wake the Cat in time for the race due to its nature of sleeping in. But when it came down to it, the Rat was far too excited to get going and left the cat to slumber, missing the race and becoming part of Chinese tradition for years to come. All for a few more hours kip. Well, we’ve all been there… 

Whether you will be celebrating Chinese New Year, or simply skipping it for a snooze, we wish you all a prosperous and successful 2022 full of cat

 cuddles.

 

The Republic x

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By Lois Roberts

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