Happy Chinese New Year! Also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. Today February 16th marks the first day of the New Year and officially it lasts until this Sunday, the 18th, but unofficially it will be celebrated over the course of the next two weeks. The dates change each year as it falls around the new moon closest to the beginning of spring, which is in January or February each year.
History of the New Year
The Chinese New Year and the festivities are born around a myth of a beast that would appear every New Year’s Eve and attack, and the legend says that in order to scare the beast, villagers would put up red banners, bang drums, and explode fire works. But the New Year is not just about this, it is a chance for family reunions, and feast, as well a preparing for good fortune and luck in the coming year!
Year of the Dog
This year is the year of the Dog, last year being the year of the Rooster. The birth years assigned to the Year of the Dog are 1934,1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, and 2006. Those born in the year of the Dog are said to be loyal, honest, selfless, cautious, and prudent. They can also be said to have poor communication skills and to be stubborn.
Some famous dogs are: Winston Curchill, Mother Theresa, Elvis Presley, Bill Clinton, Steven Spielberg, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Justin Bieber.
During the New Year, there are some "Lucky Foods” that are eaten.
Fish for Prosperity: it is meant to bring abundance from the beginning of the year to to the tail
Dumplings and Spring Rolls for Wealth: the legend says that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year cerebrations the more money you will make during the upcoming year. Also as a interesting note the Chinese avoid sauerkraut during this time because it implies a poor and difficult future
Good Fortune Fruits: Oranges, Tangerines and kumquats hold a special significance of abundance, happiness, good luck, prosperity, and family unity
Nian Gao for Success: Is also know as “rice cake” or “New Year cake”, they are served as a wish to be successful, and that every year will be better than the last
Noodles for Longevity and Happiness: noodles represent the hope for a long life
Try this recipe to help you celebrate New Years with your family!
Gong hei fat choy! (wishing you great happiness and prosperity)
It’s February! And since February is all about hearts, I thought what better time to go more in depth into the Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Heart is considered to be one of the most important organs in TCM and is described and the emperor or ruler.
The main function of the Heart is that it governs blood and houses the mind (shen). The Heart is responsible for the circulation of blood just as it is in Western medicine. So when the Heart is healthy there will be a proper supply of blood to all of the tissues, but when the function is impaired blood circulation will lack and you will see cold hands or feet.
The other extremely important function of the Heart is being the residence of the mind or Shen. Shen is used to indicate the whole sphere of both the mental and spiritual aspects of humans. The aspects are listed below and each aspect although closely related to the Heart also has a second Yin organ it is related to.
-Ethereal Soul (hun)- Liver: refers to self-awareness and self-control, it is most closely related to the Western concept of the soul
-Corporeal Soul (po)- Lung: refers to the basic reactive instincts, when it is active pain and other sensations such as itching can be felt, hearing and sight are also related to this
-Intellect (yi)- Spleen: refers to the ability of thinking, studying, concenteration and learning
-Will-power (Zhi)- Kidney: has the function of memory, mental drive and determination
-Mind (Shen)- Heart: controls and regulates all of the above and has the job of processing all of the incoming sensory and intuitive information
SYMPTOMS OF THE HEART
When the Heart is strong and Blood are abundant the emotions will be balanced, the memory will be strong and sleep will be good. When the Heart is weak and the Blood is deficient there maybe mental-emotional problems such as depression, as well as poor memory, mental restlessness, anxiety and insomnia.
THE HEART AND OUR EMOTIONS
The Heart is connected to all of the emotions because of its connection with Shen, but each of the seven emotions: anger, worry, sadness, fear, joy, grief, apprehension are related to a specific organ. And for the Heart, Joy is the emotion that is related. Of all the emotions joy is the most difficult to explain, mainly because in Chinese medicine emotions when in excess emotions can play a role in disease. You may be thinking how can too much Joy be a bad thing, and truly this was one of the harder concepts to wrap my brain around.
With the right amount of Joy in our life the mind will be peaceful and relaxed. But when Joy is excessive such as carving for excessive excitement, the Heart can be injured. This can happen to people who live in a state of continuous mental stimulation. This can be seen as someone who is in a constant manic state, or someone who will do anything to stay in a place of happiness, whether from drugs or thrilling activities. This cause the Heart to become larger, and leads to excessive stimulation of the Heart. Some symptoms of this could be palpitations, insomnia, restlessness, excessive excitability or talking, and red tongue tip.
Sudden Joy can also cause a shock to the Heart, like hearing great news unexpectedly. When this happens Yang Qi floats quickly which can cause the blood vessels of the Heart to open and dilate too much.
FOODS FOR THE HEART
Some foods that are beneficial to the Heart are many red foods such as:
Tomatoes, Beef, Cherry, Saffron, Red Beans, Watermellon, Red Apple, Beets, Radish, Strawberries, Rhubarb, Red Lentils, Longan Fruit, Red Dates, Chili, Cumin