January 28, 2017

Facts (and Alternative Facts) About Lunar New Year

Happy New Year of the Rooster, everyone! Also, happy Fire year. Happy year of the West. Happy 5–7PM. In total: Fire-Roasted Western-Style Chicken Happy Hour is from 5–7PM.

Let me unpack that.

The Chinese zodiac, shown below, is a cycle of 12 ‘terrestrial stems’—animals—and 10 ‘celestial branches’—elements. The latter is actually a combined cycle of 5 elements and yin (陰) & yang (陽).

Yes, folks, the first element is the Christmas tree! (#AlternativeFacts) Sorry about those emoji. You’d think they’d have an emoji for wood.

Anyway: Each year, the 12 animals and 10 elements rotate, such that anyone with an elementary math education can see that the entire cycle repeats every 60 years. When the cycle resets on your 60th birthday, you die, and are reborn as your zodiac animal (#AlternativeFacts). This year, 2017, or 4714 according to the Huángdì era calendar (starting 2697 BCE), corresponds to 丁酉 (丁 = 陰 + 火), or Yin Fire Rooster.

The animal cycle begins with the Rat (shown here at top) because the rat is the oldest known animal, from which all other animals are descended (#AlternativeFacts). Likewise, Wood is the oldest element, from which all the others may be extracted (#AlternativeFacts).

However, the cycle of 12 represents more than just years. For starters: what else uses base-12? That’s right—EGGS! The twelve animals also represent the twelve eggs in your carton. This year, the 10th egg is the luckiest (#AlternativeFacts).

OK, so really: the hours of the day. Ancient China used a system of 12 hours, each corresponding to 2 our of modern hours, laid out as such:

Thus the Hour of the Rooster, centered on 9 o’clock on our modern clock, the 10th ancient hour, corresponds to 5–7PM. This is this year’s lucky hour. It is especially lucky to cook your 10th Egg using Fire between 5 and 7PM (#AlternativeFacts).

Addendum 1: Remember that children’s mystery book, The Eleventh Hour? Hour of the Dog, 7–9PM.

Addendum 2: The Japanese words for AM and PM are 午前 (gozen) and 午後 (gogo) respectively. These are literally ‘noon’ + ‘before’ and ‘noon’ + ‘after.’ And have you seen that character for ‘noon’ anywhere before?… YES IT’S A HORSES!!—Referring to the ancient Hour of the Horse (11AM–1PM, centered on noon). I have found that many Japanese people are unaware of this origin.

Addendum 2.2: I hope that you, my dear Pwuth readers, know the corresponding origin of the English AM and PM. What do they stand for? If you don’t know, google it yesterday!

Something else that can be laid over this cycle: a compass.

Thus we can see that the Rooster corresponds to due West, this year’s lucky direction. Westward ho!

Addendum 1: This compass aligns neatly with the 12 winds of the Grecian navigator Timosthenes of Rhodes (c. 282 BCE), which are Aparctias (N), Boreas (NNE), Caecias (ENE), Apeliotes (E), Eurus (ESE), Phoenicias aka Euronotos (SSE), Notos (S), Leuconotos aka Libonotos (SSW), Lips (WSW), Zephyrus (W), Argestes (WNW), and Thrascias aka Circius (NNW).

Now, I didn’t mention it above, but of course, you might guess that this cycle of 12 also corresponds to the months of the year. You’d be right, but it’s offset. This year corresponds to kind-of-August (lunar month 8 on the ancient calendar)—and, by extension, autumn:

Now it’s extra-credit time. Returning to the celestial cycle of 5 elements (ignoring the yin & yang for now)…what can you think of that also comes in sets of 5? That’s right…FINGERS and TOES! Ring fingers are lucky this year (#AlternativeFacts).

Also, yes!—the Big Five personality traits (Agreeableness is lucky), the Mighty Five Russian composers (Mussorgsky is in this year), the five stages of grieving (awww…), the five senses (year of Smells), the Olympic Rings (green ascending), the five vowels (Oh!)… Also Lake Ontario, Jackie Jackson (tambourine), Staten Island, and Friday (#AlternativeFacts).

But full credit if you actually guessed: the seasons (!?), colors, flavors, fruit, body systems, and body layers!

This year is all about Bitter Blood-Red Summer Apricots. I hear they go well with Western roast chicken.

Now, another extra-credit concept: the unlucky. Looking at the animal directly opposite this year, or the Rabbit, we can also see that this year’s unlucky direction is East, and unlucky hour is 5–7AM. If you see a hare running East at 6AM this year, you’re fucked (#AlternativeFacts). Also, maybe skip eating the 4th egg in the carton this year (#AlternativeFacts).

So, in summation: Happy August Summer 4714 Western Bitter Blood Fire Red Yin Apricot Rooster 5–7PM, everybody!!


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