Year of the Fire Pig

Year of the PigHappy New Year! This one isn’t celebrated with a big ball dropping on Times Square, but it is Chinese New Year and deserves to be celebrated, coz, why not?

Today begins the year of the Fire Pig or Golden Pig, a combination that occurs only once every 60 years in a full cycle of the zodiac. The Chinese calendar is based on a lunar system, unlike that in the Western countries, and the zodiac runs on a 12-year cycle rather than a monthly one. Each year is associated with one of the five elements that Chinese mystics believe make up the universe: metal, water, wood, fire and earth.

In an article for the Phillippine Star, Doreen Yu wrote:

The poor pig always seems to get a bad rap. Despite lechon and ham being the stars of the festive table, pigs are looked down on and evoke some pretty negative connotations. You’re called a pig when you eat too much or when you’re sloppy, since pigs are seen as creatures wallowing in mud, indiscriminately devouring anything and everything they find. Pigs are regarded as slow and lazy. Pigs are abhorred and forbidden in some religions, and in the Flower Power/Black Panther days in the United States, police were called “pigs,” the ultimate enemy.

She is right on the money in describing what most of us think of when we think of pigs – indiscriminant, slow, lazy, fat, sloppy. All of those have negative connotations and I invoke them all too often when I describe myself as a pig for having eaten whatever (this week it was girl scout cookies) . Or saying my space is like a pig sty – messy and in need of cleaning and/or tidying.

But those connotations are more western than Chinese. They generally see the pig as a great source of food and, in terms of astrology, as the epitome of honesty, steadfastness and generosity. When was the last time you thought of yourself that way?

I bear the mark of a pig in the form of a small flying pig tattoo. It was a present to myself when I turned 50. I think of the pig as flying TO something, not just flapping wings for the sake of being in the air. It may be a pig but not too heavy, too messy, too burdened to just fly.

This morning one of the people in my WW meeting said his mantra this year was “Forward.” No matter what happens in terms of his weight or life or whatever, he is focusing on moving forward, not living in a pig sty of the past. I think it’s a great mantra for me to use as well, focusing on my little flying pig as moving forward above the mess to something better.

What’s your sign?