For those of you who don’t follow such matters, we have now entered the year of the horse, and if you do follow such matters, you will know that people born in the year of the horse…
…have ingenious communicating techniques and always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to follow adventurous careers. They sometimes talk too much, and they are cheerful, perceptive and talented, but they are also stubborn. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are popular among friends, active at work and refuse to be reconciled to failure, although their efforts cannot last indefinitely. However, they cannot bear much constraint, and their interest may be only superficial and lacking real substance. They are usually impatient and hot-blooded about everything other than their daily work. They are independent and rarely listen to advice. They have strong endurance but also a bad temper. They are flamboyant by nature but are wasteful, since they are not good in matters of finance. Some of those born in the year of the horse like to move in glamorous circles while pursuing high-profile careers. They tend to interfere in many things but frequently fail to finish projects of their own.If you are a regular reader, you will also know that I don’t believe it possible to predict a person’s personality from the entirely arbitrary year in which they were born. However, my scepticism doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of the celebrations that bring in the new year, which for me begins with firecrackers and a lion dance on the first day:
There is an octagonal box at the top of the string of firecrackers, clearly visible in the third photograph. It is packed with gunpowder, so its ultimate explosion brings the cacophony to a rousing conclusion, as captured by the fourth photo.
The following sequence of photos is from the lion dance. The character in the papier mâché mask appeared for the first time last year, and I do not understand his role in the ritual, but his presence does boost the entertainment factor:
On the third day, the main attraction where I live is the ceremony of the roast pigs, which can be seen on the temporary altar in the following photo:
Naturally, the ceremony is preceded by another string of firecrackers:
In case you were wondering, much of the roast pork is eaten on the spot—it’s delicious, by the way—and the rest is distributed around the village. And that’s what I like about Chinese New Year: it always comes in with a bang!
There is an urban legend, which I’ve probably done as much as anyone to propagate, that it is always cold in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year. Not this year, however, even though the holiday was earlier than usual. Thanks to a mild maritime airstream (unheard-of at this time of year, when the northeast monsoon is supposed to be in charge), the afternoon temperature in the Fanling area exceeded 26 degrees throughout the holiday period. I’m not complaining, by the way.