Art, Culture, Entertainment, Food

Enter the Tiger

Happy Lunar New Year – Enter the Year of the Tiger!

Happy Lunar New Year everyone or “Gung hay fat choy” which means congratulations and be prosperous in Cantonese.

But it’s not just Chinese New Year on February 1st this year, it’s also known as Spring Festival, Lunar New Year and the New Moon Festival and is observed in many countries in east Asia. The festival(s) centre around hope for good fortune and prosperity and signals the end of winter on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. The date itself differs each year but will always fall somewhere between January 20th and February 21st on the Gregorian calendar, beginning on the new moon that appears during this time. Celebrations typically last for 16 days.

“Tiger” by Val McDowall (1987)

Keeping my Eye on the Tiger

2022 is the Year of the Tiger. The tiger was always my favourite animal growing up. Such a gorgeous and powerful animal with mesmerizing eyes. I drew this tiger in colour pencil back in 1987 which I am thinking to produce as a scarf.

It’s funny how the brain works with word association isn’t it. When I hear the word ‘tiger’ my excitable and creative ‘monkey’ brain immediately jumps to movies and songs.

Oh how I loved that 1977 movie Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger as a kid. It really captured my imagination despite the corny special affects, pretty cheesy when compared to the sophisticated effects we see nowadays. If you have never seen it (or even if you have), give yourself a treat and click on the link above which takes you to the official movie trailer. What a great trip down memory lane this was for me thinking about family holidays at Primrose Valley in North Yorkshire (England) where my brother, sister and I saw the film at the ‘pictures’ (cinema). Now I’m going to have to find that film and watch it again!

The other trigger I get from the word “tiger” is an ear worming rendition of that iconic “Eye of the Tiger” song by Survivor from the Rocky III movie (1982) but did you know that the song was originally made for The Karate Kid movie? The director planned to use the song for the final fighting scene at the end. Interestingly, both are ‘fight’ movies but they also about fiery passion, courage, fearlessness and bravery which are some of the key symbolisms of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac.

The tiger is known as the king of all beasts in China. The Zodiac sign Tiger is regarded as a symbol of strength, exorcising evils, and braveness and bodes well for a prosperous year will be had by all. Tiger energy also symbolizes recovery and growth. A fitting icon to follow and clean up the last two years the world has experienced. Chinese people believe that what you do at the beginning of a new year will affect your luck in the coming year, so definitely start as you mean to go on I say.

Spiritually speaking, in Native American symbolism, the tiger totem animal epitomizes strength, power, courage, and ambition. It also represents a symbolic release of fears and standing for truth, justice, and integrity. 

What’s Your Sign?

Most people are aware that each Lunar year has a corresponding animal from the ancient mythological Chinese Zodiac. There are 12 animals in total, each possessing their own unique character traits. The animals represented are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

To determine your Zodiac animal, find the year you were born in the Zodiac wheel below.

Note, however, that this Zodiac is based on the beginning of the year for the Chinese calendar, not the regular Western calendar. Since the beginning of the year varies each year (falling in late January to early February), you might want to read the personality traits associated with the previous year’s Zodiac to see if they are more appropriate if you were born during this time.

Find your year of birth in the wheel above to determine your Zodiac animal

Elemental Influence

In addition, each zodiac animal has five separate elemental influences (wood, fire, metal, water and earth), each with different personalities, which rotate every 12 years. This year is the year of the Water Tiger. The last time this guy appeared was in 1962, 60 years ago!

To find out what your zodiac animal element represents, look at the last digit of your birth year and find the corresponding number in brackets below:

  • Wood – creativity and imagination (4 or 5)
  • Fire – passion and adventure (6 or 7)
  • Metal – persistence and aspiration (0 or 1)
  • Water – agility and fluency (2 or 3)
  • Earth – stability and patience (8 or 9)

Lucky Colours for 2022

Many Chinese children wear hats or shoes with tiger images for good luck. I certainly don’t need much encouragement for wearing more animal print at any time of the year! I love it, so much so, my husband regularly calls me “Bet Lynch”, in reference to the iconic leopard print sporting barmaid from the British soap opera Coronation Street.  Not the most flattering comparison, I much prefer to take a leaf out of British Stylist Trinny Woodall who always advocates wearing “leopard on top of leopard on top of leopard”. A girl can never have enough animal print is what I always say. I have collected a fair bit of animal print in many forms over the years including tiger print on skirts, trousers, jewelry, scarves, handbags and boots. I also have some gorgeous Tiger’s Eye stone jewelry. If my wardrobe can help to boost my luck throughout this Tiger influenced year, then so much the better, you make your own luck after all.

Utilizing the power of colour is another way to boost luck as well as other emotions and outcomes. Colour is known to affect behaviour, moods, confidence and thoughts.

If you want to give your luck and good fortune a boost this year, and who wouldn’t, here are the lucky colours associated with each of the zodiac animals for 2022:

  • Rat – red and blue
  • Ox – red and yellow
  • Tiger – orange, black, and blue
  • Rabbit – green, purple and orange
  • Dragon – yellow and white
  • Snake – tangerine, cyan, and silver
  • Horse – green, blue and red
  • Goat – bright yellow
  • Monkey – white and baby blue
  • Rooster – yellow
  • Dog – yellow, black and grey
  • Pig – yellow, green and black

Predictions for 2022

Want to know what’s in store for you this year:
What does your animal say about your personality

Chinese New Year Traditions

As you might imagine, there are lots of traditions that come into play at the Chinese New Year such as:

  • Cleaning and decorating your home with red things
  • Honouring ancestors
  • Enjoying a family dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve
  • Exchanging red envelopes and other gifts
  • Setting off fire crackers and fireworks
  • Watching lion and dragon dances
  • Eating symbolic food to bring good luck
  • There are also a few taboos as well …

You can read more on these traditions on this website:
Greetings for a Lucky Tiger Year 2022.

Lucky Food

If you’d like to participate in some foodie traditions to boost your prosperity this coming year, check out this great article: Top 7 Chinese New Year Foods to Bring You Good Luck

I’m all for boosting good luck and prosperity at any given time but especially on auspicious occasions such as the Lunar New Year.

This year I will be serving up dumplings and spring rolls (for wealth), a ‘fish’ noodle dish (for increasing prosperity, happiness and longevity) and fortune cookies. I’ve included the recipe for the noodle dish below if you want to give it a go.

What do you do with your fortune cookies? I like to ask a question right before I crack open the cookie to reveal the prediction. Of course the answer quite often doesn’t make sense but that’s all part of the fun!

Lucky food for the Lunar New Year

Long Life Noodles with Prawn & Lobster

Long life noodles are a traditional Chinese New Year recipe, symbolizing longevity. They are supposed to be eaten from end-to-end, without breaking them (think Lady and the Tramp movie) or the good luck or wish will be broken. Prawns are another lucky lunar symbol, representing happiness. For my Lunar New Year’s Eve lucky dinner date with my husband, I decided to go with prawns and will add some lobster as well for good measure.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili oil or chili flakes, depending on your spice level
  • 1 pack long life noodles
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen prawns, peeled and deveined
    (I’m using half ‘n’ half prawns and previously prepared lobster)
  • 4 teaspoons corn starch
  • ½ red or yellow pepper, or a combination of both, thinly Julienned
  • Vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. To make the sauce, in a small bowl mix one cup of water, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, ginger, scallions, and garlic, and set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles, but cook them 1-2 minutes less than the packet instructions, as they will keep cooking in the sauce.
  3. While the noodles are cooking, heat a wok over a high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until just cooked. Remove the shrimp to a bowl.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and stir-fry the scallions for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the red pepper and stir-fry for one minute, then add the shrimp and the sauce. Stir together.
  5. By now the noodles should be ready, so drain and add to the wok. Toss to combine everything well. Remove from the wok and serve immediately.

Until next time, Gung hay fat choy!

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