Chinese New Year: Year of the Horse

Chinese New Year: Year of the Horse

Good fortune comes to those born in the “Year of the Horse.”

So says the Chinese calendar with its 12 revolving signs of the zodiac, each one reigning for a year. In 2014, it’s the horse that’s taking the reins as Chinese New Year welcomed the “Year of the Horse” on January 31st. And what a great sign to be born under: these horses we ride, take into battle, and love as our best four-legged friends.

Horses of the Silk Route – including China – have captivated generations; this Akhal-Teke is no exception <br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Horses of the Silk Route – including China – have captivated generations; this Akhal-Teke is no exception
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Ring in the NewBut first, Chinese New Year. It’s not just a one-day deal, but lasts more than two weeks – plenty of time for family gatherings and reunions. Houses are spic-n-span clean as family members scrub them from top to bottom, sweeping away bad fortune to make way for good luck and good things.

Red is a happy color of joy and good luck, ubiquitous during Chinese New Year celebrations Photo credit: Chinese National Tourism Office

Red is a happy color of joy and good luck, ubiquitous during Chinese New Year celebrations
Photo credit: Chinese National Tourism Office

The Color RedRed is everywhere – the color of joy and prosperity. Red is incorporated into decorations in doorways and windows that call out for happiness, wealth, and long life. If you’re handed a red envelope, you don’t need to be a mind reader to know what’s inside: money! This is the time for new clothes, new hairdos, and a clean slate when it comes to debts. Noise is a must at midnight on New Year’s Eve; Chinese firecrackers and fireworks scare off evil spirits.

Chinese masks such as red dragons and lions are a common sight at New Year's celebrations Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Chinese masks such as red dragons and lions are a common sight at New Year’s celebrations
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Special concerts and traditional dances are part of Chinese New Year's celebrations <br>Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Special concerts and traditional dances are part of Chinese New Year’s celebrations
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

If you were with those ushering in Chinese New Year on January 31st, you might have noticed that no one lit a fire, used a knife, or swept a room. No work, no way! There was little else to do except sit back and celebrate (eating food made ahead of time) at a family’s reunion dinner, the highlight of New Year’s festivities. It’s all so quintessentially Chinese, celebrated for generations upon generations.

Favorite Chinese New Year's foods include chicken, dumplings, and long noodles – for long life <br>Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Favorite Chinese New Year’s foods include chicken, dumplings, and long noodles – for long life
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

It's believed that eating oranges at Chinese New Year's will bring  good luck<br>Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

It’s believed that eating oranges at Chinese New Year’s will bring good luck
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Horses of the Silk RoadAs more than one billion Chinese are celebrating the “Year of the Horse” in 2014, it’s easy to see why these noble animals are the stuff of legends, from Trojan Horse history to exotic steeds of the Silk Road. From China to the Mediterranean Sea, these Silk Road horses captivate travelers, from the prized Akhal-Teke breed in Turkmenistan to the sheer strength and beauty of those showcased in horse games in Kyrgyzstan.

<i>Ulak Tartysh</i> is an ancient Kyrgyz horse game played similar to polo, but with a goat carcass <br>Photo credit: Christine Z. Anderson

Ulak Tartysh is an ancient Kyrgyz horse game similar to polo, but played with a goat carcass
Photo credit: Christine Z. Anderson

Perhaps in this Chinese New Year – the “Year of the Horse” – we might all remember the saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” In other words, let’s be grateful for what we have.

Happy New Year, all year long!

This Ashkabad monument of 10 Akhal-Teke horses reflects Turkmens'  love for their Silk Road horses <br>Photo credit: Russ & Ellen Cmolik

This monument of 10 Akhal-Teke horses reflects Turkmens’ love for their Silk Road horses
Photo credit: Russ & Ellen Cmolik

Travel to China with MIRYou can learn more about Chinese New Year traditions as well as 2014’s “Year of the Horse” on MIR tours to China. You can also book a custom private journey.


(Top photo credit: Michel Behar) 

 

PUBLISHED: July 1, 2014

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