The coming Year of the Tiger is an auspicious event throughout Asia. January 1st is, of course, the start of the new year throughout Western countries. However, for people throughout the Asian continent, it’s a different picture. Lunar New Year, as it is correctly called, is fast approaching. As the name suggests, this is a lunar celebration and is, therefore, something of a moveable feast. In 2022 New Year’s Day for many Asian countries is February 1st.
The Year of the Tiger: Differences
There are subtle differences between Asian countries, but the lunar calendar remains the one constant. For the people of China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and more this is an extremely auspicious time of the year. This year, in Thailand, their own equivalent of Lunar New Year, Songkran, falls in April. However, the Chinese version does not go unnoticed. With more than 7 million Chinese in the country, it is widely celebrated.
To even further complicate things, Thailand’s years stem from the birth of the Lord Buddha and not Jesus Christ. Hence the new year in Thailand will be 2565. However, over in China, the New Year carries an even larger number. On February 1st. it will be the year 4720. These numbers really do put Western civilization into context.
The Year of the Tiger: A Brief History
Each year is represented by one of the 12 creatures of the zodiac. Legend tells of a God who summoned all the animals to say goodbye before he departed from the Earth. Only 12 animals succeeded in making the journey, and he awarded each one a place of honor in a year decided by the order of their arrival. So it was that the places of the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig were cast in history. In Vietnam, the ox and the rabbit are replaced by the buffalo and the cat.
These ancient legends have many stories within stories. Just how the Tiger became so important is indeed a legend within a legend. The Tiger changed from being an insignificant animal to a furious fighting warrior defending all humans. Having won 3 famous battles, he was summoned to heaven. The supreme God placed three vertical lines on his forehead, still seen today on all tigers. This symbol represents a king. A full version of the legend can be found here.
The Year of the Tiger: Traditions From Around Asia
The new year is normally heralded with enormous firework displays that bring millions onto the streets of major cities throughout Asia. Sadly because of COVID, these have been absent for a while. One can but only imagine the size of parties when these restrictions, that have become part of our lives, are finally lifted. All countries have slightly different traditions. However, forever constant is the importance of family and joyous celebration.
Almost traditional these days are the terrific ads based around Lunar New Year traditions. Here are a few examples of some for 2022: The Year of the Tiger. The emphasis on family is all too clear.
Happy New Year, Vietnam
“Chuc Mung Nam Moi”
Tet is of immense importance. Its effects are seen everywhere throughout the land. Streets come alive with colorful flowers and trees. People in Vietnam have huge pride in their homes. This is a time for a big “spring clean”. Homes are swept, tidied, polished, and adorned with colorful blossom, both inside and out.
It really is a joy to ride around the city streets, taking in the sights and aromas that fill the air. In the south of the country, kumquat trees with their white flowers and rich orange fruit are de rigueur. In the north, it is the yellow blossom of apricot trees that dominate. However, in all areas, you will find bright orange and rich magenta-red flowers.
Happy New Year, China
“Xin Nian Hao” (Mandarin) “San nin hou” (Cantonese)
After cleaning their houses, red decorations are hung everywhere. The famous Chinese lanterns are always evident. Red is believed to be a very auspicious color in the new year. It denotes prosperity and energy and wards off evil spirits and negativity. Cleaning has to be done on New Year’s Eve, sweeping houses on New Year’s Day, sweeps away the good fortune. Likewise, washing of hair and clothes is the same.
Food, of course, is important. But only after the ancestors have ‘eaten’. This is achieved by visiting ancestral tombs to leave offerings. An extra glass is laid at dining tables on New Year’s Eve. 7 dishes are considered lucky: Fish, dumplings, spring rolls, sweet rice balls, lucky fruit, rice cake, and noodles.
Children receive “ya sui Ian” money, literally meaning “suppressing demon”. The money is given in red envelopes to provide a peaceful and safe new year. Superstition is huge around numbers in China. 8 and 6 are considered good as the words are homophones for ‘wealth’ and ‘soothe’. 4 is very unlucky as the word rhymes with their word for death. In buildings in China, the 4th floor normally does not exist.
Happy New Year, South Korea
“Saehae bok mani badeuseyo”
The three-day New Year celebration is one of the most important of the South Korean calendar. As usual, this is a family holiday with people traveling across the country and beyond, to be with their loved ones. The traditional dress (hanbok) is worn by many.
Again the traditions start by honoring the family ancestors. Then younger family members pay tribute to their elders by bowing dutifully and receiving their lucky money. Traditional food includes a soup of thinly sliced rice cakes or dumplings.
Many families enjoy flying kites and playing board games. The ubiquitous Korean Karaoke is everywhere at this time of year.
Happy New Year, Singapore
Multi-cultural Singapore mainly follows Chinese traditions. However, Singapore does it big! Based on the traditional lunar calendar, a massive 15-day party celebrates New Year.
The entire city skyline and streets light up in an amazing blaze of light and color. The markets and malls also play a big part. The traditional plant at this time of year is the plum tree. It is in evidence everywhere.
There is an enormous firework and light show in the Marina Bay Area. One of the highlights of the year, it rivals anything seen anywhere in the world.
Singapore being the party town it is, huge street parties and outdoor events crop up everywhere. Major parties can be found at Mount Faber, hosted by The Jewel Box; Clarke Quay hosted by Mardi Gras; and IndoChine Waterfront, hosted by Havana Bill. In addition, there are The Siloso Splash party and Cirque Aquatique Ball. Both big events offer great live music and delicious food. Parties begin on New Year’s Eve and go on until the wee small hours.
The Year of the Tiger: An Upturn in Fortunes?
Lunar New Year does have huge consequences for people throughout the region. It is believed that each year the presiding animal will determine many things. 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, which is especially good for business and prosperity in general. The weight that these beliefs carry in Asia must not be underestimated.
The last two years, represented by the Rat and the Ox (Buffalo) saw many challenges throughout the world. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, businesses were hit like never before. A new reality hit most of us with millions of people losing their jobs and millions more working from home.
Social life was devastated and mental health issues rose exponentially. For many, work became their social life. The only interactions that many of us had with other people, was through our computer screens in business meetings. In Asia, the Year of the Tiger is believed to bring with it, many changes. These changes should bring many positive opportunities for us in business, love, and personal development.
The Year of the Tiger: Business
The Year of the Tiger is normally seen as a volatile year, heralding huge change and social upheaval. While this is normally a worrying time for many, this year it is seen as mainly positive. After 2 dreadful COVID-impacted years, massive change is something that will be welcomed by most.
Most saw 2020 (the year of the Rat) as a year of simply surviving. Then 2021 (the year of the Ox or Buffalo) was a time to accept the new norms brought by the pandemic. 2022’s Tiger year is a time for big changes, risk-taking, and adventures. Asia is feeling buoyant and a new confidence is spreading quickly.
It is a time to chase your dreams and make things happen. It is also time to use your intuition while keeping your ego in check. Make solid business decisions and things should go well. Many Asians will see this as a time for a career change, so expect some fluidity in the markets.
The surprisingly high inflation that took many by surprise in 2021 is expected to continue in the first half of 2022. The US Federal Reserve undertook a huge purchasing program designed to protect the economy from the ravages of COVID. It has now begun winding this down and it is hoped that interest rates will start to cool by Q2.
Green issues will dominate the markets. Japanese car giant Toyota has already announced a massive move towards electric and hybrid cars. To challenge Tesla, it has announced 30 new electric models.
For business, this could be a very interesting year in Asia. Tiger years are seen as volatile and changing. Following on from two poor years worldwide, this could be seen as the right time for growth and investment. Many Asian people are ready for new challenges and are in an inspirational mood.
There is no doubt that the year will see a feeling of confidence spreading throughout the advertising industry. For those ready to grasp it, it could be a very good year indeed. The importance of superstition in Asia, cannot be overstated.
Lucky numbers are thought to be 1, 3, and 7. Lucky colours for 2022 are blue and green. The signs favour northern locations. The Year of the Tiger’s mantra of YOLO could well guide many.