Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar and thus the new year falls on a different day each year sometime in January/ February.
In 2022 it falls on the 1st of February, heralding the year of the Water Tiger and is celebrated for 15 days till the full moon of the first lunar month.
Growing up, the story I was told goes like this: Buddha wanted to name 12 years after 12 animals.
So he called a race awarding the first 12 that reached him with a year named after them.
The ox gallumphed to the finish line but it was the cunning rat – sitting on top of the ox – who nipped down right at the final straight and got first place! Below you can find the order for the 12 animals.
We thank @bulanlifestyle for the beautiful artwork each animal.
We thought it would be fun to pair the characteristics of each animal with an UMAMU Estate wine, so here goes...
(Note: if your birthday falls in Jan or early Feb, then you could be the previous or next animal depending on which day Chinese new year was the year you were born. You are welcome to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to check!)
|Animal sign||Year||Characteristic||UMAMU wine pairing|
|Bright, bubbly, optimistic, hardworking and frugal.||MacAnn Sparks 2019|
1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Honest, loyal, strong, hardworking and reliable.
|Cabernet Sauvignon 2015|
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Authoritative, courageous, born leaders, adventurous and aggressive.
1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
|Diplomatic, graceful, gentle,
clever and secretive.
|Cane cut 2014|
1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Dynamic, self confident, brave, ambitious and stubborn.
|Cabernet Merlot 2017|
1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
|Mysterious, sophisticated, intelligent, beautiful and vain.||Cabernet Franc 2016|
1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
|Independent, active, versatile, intuitive and volatile.||SBS 2010|
1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
|Creative, affectionate, altruistic, resilient and self indulging.||Sauvignon Blanc 2011|
1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
|Charming, intelligent, confident, independent and easily bored.||Rose 2018|
1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
|Loyal, capable, honest, decisive and critical.||Chardonnay 2018|
1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
|Loyal, brave, responsible, grounded and critical.||SBS 2016|
1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031
|Kind, loyal, self indulgent, generous and gullible.||Ann's Cabernet Sauvignon 2011|
So there are 12 animals and these rotate each year.
One added layer is there are five elements for each animal, namely water, wood, fire, earth and metal.
According to traditional thought (and even in traditional Chinese medicine) the elements interact as such:
- Water feeds Wood
- Wood starts a Fire
- Fire creates Earth
- Earth holds Metal
- Metal carries Water
When we created the name UMAMU, one of the prongs to the name was to have five letters because of the five elements!
So for Chinese people (or anyone who embraces this!), when they turn 60, not only is it their animal sign but the return of their element as well so it calls for a big birthday celebration!
When Dad turned 60, we had a lovely celebration in England at Horsted Place with close friends and family.
Mum got a Rolls Royce (on loan) tied up with a massive red ribbon. We ate long life birthday noodles, a Chinese tradition.
Back to Chinese New Year.
Traditionally during the evening celebrations, all members of the family return to their home towns.
Steamboat is served – a soup based dish served in a donut shaped pot with charcoal in the middle to keep it simmering. It stays hot through the night so that as family come from a distance, they join in and dinner is welcomingly hot!
We also celebrate with a salad called Yee Sang. Yee Sang is a ‘Prosperity toss’ where you toss a salad with particular ingredients that have symbols of Abundance, Prosperity and Good luck. Traditionally bringing wishes for reaching higher levels, for Households to be filled with gold and silver, Prosperity for the business and for Life to always be Sweet… Click here for a recipe incase you fancy trying it out.
Red lanterns adorn streets and homes and symbolise happiness, a thriving life, a prosperous business and are believed to drive away any bad luck.
Another important tradition are lion dances to bring luck and chase away bad. Performed in sync with music of beating drums and gongs. Lions represent joy and happiness in Chinese mythology.
Embracing all good things in life and auspiciousness may we continue these traditions and make new ones!
Wishing everyone a healthy, prosperous and fulfilling year of the Water Tiger!
Gong Xi Fa Chai!