Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happy 4712!!! It's time for the Year of the Horse!

(Image taken from china-tour.cn)

According to Chinese tradition, January 31st of this year will be the Chinese New Year. It will be year 4712 and the Year of the Horse.

The horse is a symbol of transition or movement - it carries us from one place to a better place.  So I truly hope that this will be a lucky year for you and that the year of the horse will see you moving to a better and better situation!  Please wish me luck too!

Do you know, by the way, why, in the west, it is the year 2014? This is actually an interesting story.

At one point the Catholic Church decided to change the system of how years were recorded and set the year 1 as the year during which they believed Jesus had been born.  

The Church also wanted to imply (suggest) that before the year 1, nothing really mattered.  They wanted to divide history into 2 parts: meaningless history (BC - before the birth of Jesus Christ) and meaningful history (AD - anno domini ...Latin for "the year of our Lord" or "the year our Lord Jesus was born").

The Catholic Church literally (really) taught that before the birth of Jesus, life sucked!  There was really no hope and only after Jesus was born was there hope and the possibility of people dying and going to heaven.

Yes, it was a crazy thing for them to teach.  And, later, this system of establishing years was quite harmful to the Church.

After the 1300s people began to rediscover the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome.  They began finding amazing art and amazing books.  But the Church had said that, basically, everything before Jesus sucked - but these books and the art definitely DIDN'T suck.  In fact, the books and art were better than the books and art the Church liked.

So this made people think: "Hmmmmm...was the Church telling me the truth?  They said life sucked before Jesus, but this Greek and Roman stuff looks really good!  These people seemed to be living meaningful and good lives!  I think the Church lied to me!"  This lead to the Renaissance, where artists and writers began to value the traditions of the ancient world more than the traditions of the Catholic Church.

To all of you who come back occasionally and read the stuff I post here, thank you for supporting my blog.  I truly hope it helps you.  Personally, I think you are quite smart ---> this is the best English reading/vocabulary blog on the internet!  Congratulations for finding it! Let's have a great year together!

Here's a great article about the Chinese New Year:
(Please be aware the top of this web page has big advertisements, so please scroll down to see the article on the Chinese New year)

http://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/57103/chinese-new-year-2014-year-horse-explained

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a novelty - something new and strange

to be marked by - to be recognized by; or if it is marked by something, it is known because of these things which happen

to scratch the surface - to look more closely or to look deeper

a festival - basically a festival is a public party that occurs for a meaningful reason

to mark the beginning of - 'mark' is used differently here; it means it indicates the beginning of the new year

a legend is like a myth - it is a deliberately false story meant to teach a lesson or explain something

a beast - usually a wild animal

villagers worked out - learned through experience, or learned through trial and error

the seeds were sown - the tradition was started

to trace something back - to follow something back in time

lunisolar - moon and sun

to vary - to show differences

at the heart of - central to, most important to

in the run up to - in the days immediately preceding the New Year

prosperity - luck

to bid farewell to - to say goodbye to

to usher in - to bring in; if you go to a sporting event, an usher will take your ticket and show you where your seat is


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