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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Excuse me, sir, would you happen to know what year this is?

For the last several weeks I have been thinking about New Year.  Not the traditional Western New Year, with all of the ball dropping, (I remember watching them "drop" the ball for the first time, it was dreadfully disappointing, I thought they were "dropping" something, it should be called "delicately lowering the ball") champagne toasting, parade watching run of the mill routines.  Instead, the Lunar New Year, celebrated by the Chinese has been on my mind.
These are people not really known for their ability to throw a party.  Centuries of creative innovation, untrammeled industriousness, a work ethic matched only by the social insects, plus they build a pretty nice wall.  But, if you were to think of great places to celebrate, it probably would not include China.  

When it comes to this one though, they do it right.  It is a three day celebration, including food, family and tradition.  Ancient beliefs add mystical properties, and that alone is enough to make it wonderful.  Ritual cleaning and ceremonial food provide the "out with the old and in with the new" air to these joyous festivities.  They throw evil spirits from the house and welcome good fortune, happiness and wealth.  

In my job I am, occasionally, fortunate enough to communicate with people from all over the world.  And one year a woman from China emailed me wishing me a "Happy Year of the Rat."  It was a very nice gesture, but, after that I was hooked.  There is something so appealing about the symbolism involved in naming years like that.  

We need to do something like that here.  We need to be a little less strident about our own infallibility, we need to embrace the possibilities, accept the unknown, and the comfort we can find in remembering that there are things we don't need to understand, or explain. Remember the words of George Bernard Shaw, "Beware of false knowledge, it is more dangerous than ignorance."  There is a lot we can learn in unexpected places, if we are willing.  So, have a Happy Year of the Horse.