Thursday, December 12, 2013

Guest Blogger - Year Of the Horse by Valerie Lee


Valerie Lee, Author of
The Jade Rubies

A Long Way to Death Row,
From many years of candid interviews with
Charles Ng

Happy New Year!


MAH NIEN.  2014 is the Year of the Horse. This magnificent animal proudly gallops in ousting the sneaky, slithery Snake, the strongest negative force among the 12 animal deities that rule the Chinese lunar calendar. The Horse begins his reign on January 31, 2014 until February 18, 2015 at which time the Ram will take over.

There is definitely a leader of men born in the Year of the Horse.  He had proved it time and time again by his ruthless, forceful nature.  This is indeed the traits of none other than the great Genghis Khan.  He was born Temujin and was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his demise. 

Each year is assigned an animal in a 12-year cycle and the Chinese believe that they take on the likeliness of animals that rule the year of their birth just as modern Astrologists believe people born under a certain sign of the Western Zodiac have similar traits. 

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of those born in the Year of Horse, 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002 and 2014.

Horse individuals are earthly, good looking with raw sex appeal and may appear more arrogant and youthful than other signs but they also are volatile and erratic.  They don’t like routine and prefer being free so they can do anything on a whim.

They are usually happy, friendly and cooperative and not overly egotistical so they wouldn’t constantly vie for attention.  Being social with lots of energy they tend to be the life of a party and like to travel. 

Loyal to friends and family they can be fickle when it comes to love but if they can’t have the one they love, why not love the one they are with?   However, if they feel the rein tightening they would not hesitate for one minute to trot off to greener pastures. In business, they are confident and they will succeed in whatever they pursue but with their forceful manner, they prefer to be boss. 

Progressive, they tend to be modern but not sentimental so they would throw caution to the wind tossing out the old and welcoming in the new.  New inventions and change gives them an opportunity to explore other things but they will always try hard to take care of their responsibilities first.      

The last Fire Horse year was 1966 and it will not come around again until 2026.  People in Asia considered it bad luck to have children at that time, especially the female horse because they could bring disaster to their families and future spouses. So the birth rates dropped due to voluntary abortions because no one wanted Fire Horse children because the men are high-spirited, hot-blooded, excitable and hard to control.   Now this belief is a form of superstition to the Chinese and can be just as ridiculous as Americans who fear crossing the path of a black cat.   
Regardless of which animal rules each year, most Chinese Americans look forward to Spring Festival or Guo Nien because it’s the biggest party of all, like all the birthdays and holidays combined all into one. Since the New Year celebration runs for two weeks, we start off with eating the usual traditional Chinese dishes symbolic of this particular time.    

The most popular Chinese New Year’s dish is meatless and is still consumed today and consists only of vegetables.  This delicious recipe originated from the Buddhist Monks who went begging for food and received only meager portions of vegetables.  However, being inventive cooks, they created what is known as Monk’s food or Jai.

Ingredients of Jai are a play on Chinese words, especially those symbolizing good luck.  Fat Choy (hair-like seaweed) is wealth; Fun see (cellophane noodles) and Chin Ngee (fungus) are longevity; Foo Jook (dried bean curd and sheets) means blessings for each household: Bak Ko (ginko nut) means 100 Grandchildren; Ho See (oysters) means good tidings and successful business: Lin Gee (lotus seed) means many children; Gum Choy (dried lily flower) means gold and good luck; and Hua Sung (peanut) means birth and promotion.  
During this period, parents, grandparents, friends and family will be honored with many gifts as oranges, candy, nuts and pastry.  It’s the time to promote benevolence, reunions, family unity, remembrances, and people will pay homage to their deceased ancestors. 

Candied preserved fruits and vegetables also signify something – melon seeds mean many children, carrots resemble coins so they symbolize golden wealth. The long vines of squash and melon plants mean a long line of descendants; lotus seeds mean productions of sons; kumquats are for good luck and coconuts are hopes for a strong relationship between father and son.   
While many will be enjoying special foods, events and festivities, much can be remembered and learned from the past. 
      Many momentous events took place during the Horse Years.
On a positive note, there was one historical turning point on November 18, 1918 when Germany signed an armistice and World War I was over. 

      In another Horse Year, 1942, Joe Louis knocked out Buddy Bear in the first round and the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship was successfully defended for the 20th time.

On September 27, 1954, The Tonight Show premiered on NBC, hosted by Steve Allen, the show’s co-creator. 

On February 3, 1966, Soviet scientists engineered a spectacular feat when they landed Luna 9 spacecraft on the pitted lava surface of the moon. 

On July 26, 1978 in Manchester, England, Louise Brown, the world’s first test-tube baby, was born, in vitro fertilization in a pioneering operation by Dr. Patrick Steptoe. 

In 1990, the highlights for the World Cup soccer finals, everyone was in awe.  Before a crowd of 6,000 and a broadcast audience of 1.5 billion, conductor Zubin Mehta presided over a unique concert showcasing the once in a lifetime show with a trio of dominant operatic tenors, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti.

On a more ominous note, on April 18, 1906, San Francisco residents suffered one of the most tragic and feared natural catastrophes of all time: an earthquake that lasted 47 seconds and 450,000 people lost their homes with 670 dead and 350 missing.

And in the Soviet Union on July 16, 1918,  another Horse Year, the unsuspecting Romanovs,  Nicholas, his wife, Alexandra, their five children, four daughters and Alexis, the 14-year-old heir were ordered to go down to their cellar where they were all executed.

In July, 1930, police and rioters battled during a serious anti-British riot that broke out in Mansurah, Egypt following the dismissal of Nationalist Premier Nahas Pasha who narrowly escapes death in the unrest when the soldier’s bayonet thrust was diverted by his deputy.

Remember the Bataan Death March that happened on April 9, 1942 when the Japanese command forced 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers on a brutal 65-mile march to a prison camp?  Although weak from dysentery and hunger, more than 5,000 Filipinos and 600 Americans died and many others bayoneted when they could go no farther and others randomly tortured to death.   Only 54,000 prisoners completed the grueling hike.  10,000 escaped into the jungle and of these, 17,000 starved to death in the camp. 

In another Horse Year, in November, 1978, over 900 people died in a mass suicide by drinking cyanide at the behest of their leader, Reverend Jim Jones at the People’s Temple Commune in Guyana.

This year, 2014, brace yourself for lots of action, adventure and productivity. In our lively and high-spirited world, life will be hectic with more tension and stress.  We need to take a step back and not tax our energy or drive ourselves too hard.

Industry and the world’s economy will be on the upswing with more attention in areas of diplomacy, politics and our environment. 

This will also be a capricious year filled with romantic, carefree adventures. Fashions will be colorful, bold and exciting with stunning designs, yet provocative with flowing fabrics allowing freedom of movement. 

The cheerful, sanguine, unpredictable horse will quicken our pulses with his energetic spirit, so proceed with caution and common sense towards money matters.  Patience and perseverance will win out in the months to come.

Photo Description And Copyright Info

Photo 1.
Valerie Lee.  Copyright by Valerie Lee.

Photo 2.
Jacket cover of Jade Rubies.

Photo 3.
Jacket cover of A Long Way to Death Row, From Many Years of Candid Interviews With Charles Ng.

Photo 4.
Sculpture of horse from Chinese Zodiac and Mount Horgan.  Photograph attributed to Jakub Halun.   Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike and GNU Free DocumentationLicense.

Photo 5.
Portrait of Genghis Khan cropped out of a page from an album depicting several Yuan emperors, now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Original size is 47 cm wide and 59.4 cm high. Paint and ink on silk. Public domain.

Photo 6.
Terracotta zodiacal Snake from the Sui Dynasty (581-618).  Photograph attributed to Guillaume Jacquet.  GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike.

Photo 7.
Stone carving of the Chinese Zodiac.  Photograph attributed to Felix Andrews.  GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike.

Photo 8.
The carvings with Chinese Zodiac on the ceiling of the gate to Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka.  Photograph attributed to Jakub Halun.  GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike.

Photo 9.
Black cat (Lillith).  “I took this picture of Lilith, a black cat found as a kitten in a supermarket parking lot. Feel free to share this image, but leave "Lilith" in the file name, please!” Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 Generic.

Photo 10.
Lion dancers at Historic Chinatown Gate, Chinese New Year, Hing Hay Park, Seattle, Washington on February 3, 2011.    Photograph attributed to Joe Mabel.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 11.
Buddhist Monks in Thailand.  Photograph Attributed to Tevaprapas Makklay.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike.

Photo 12.
Buddha’s Delight or Jai.  Photograph attributed to FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

Photo 13.
Fat Choy.  Photograph attributed to Benjwong.  Public Domain.

Photo 14.
Cellophane noodles.  Photograph attributed to Benjwong.  Public Domain.

Photo 15.

Photo 16.
Chinese New Year Candy Box.  Attributed to Denise Chan at Flickr.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

Photo 17.
Lotus seeds.  Public Domain.

Photo 18.
Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) from the Marennes-Oléron (fr) basin in France.  Quality image attributed to David Monniaux.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 France and 3.0 Unported.

Photo 19.
Colorized photograph, which depicts from left to right: German Admiral Ernst Vanselow, German Count Alfred von Oberndorff (1870 - 1963) of the Foreign Ministry, German army general Detlof von Winterfeldt, British Royal Navy Captain Jack Marriott (Naval Assistant to the First Sea Lord), Matthias Erzberger, head of the German delegation Center party member of the Reichstag (1875 - 1921), who was later murdered by Freikorps rightists for his role in the Armistice, British Rear-Admiral George Hope (Deputy First Sea Lord), British Admiral of the Fleet Sir w:en:Rosslyn Wemyss (First Sea Lord), Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch (1851 - 1929), and French general Maxime Weygand (1867 - 1965). according to
This image appears to be a painting, not a colourized photograph. (It might have also been published as a sepia postcard.) The probability that it is not a photograph is also indicated by the inaccurate depiction of furniture, in Maréchal Foch's 'dining car', which had a fixed-to-the-floor table and French chairs (as seen in photographs of the event). The probable inaccuracy of the depiction might be the reason for its anonymity.  Public Domain.

Photo 20.
Joe Lewis.  Attributed to Carl Van Vechten.  Library of Congress, Public Domain.

Photo 21. 
Jacket cover of Inventing Late Night  Steve Allen and the original Tonight Show.

Photo 22.
A replica of Luna 9 on display in the Memorial Museum of Astronautics.
Attributed to Русский: Вадим Кондратьев.  Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 23.
Dr. Patrick Steptoe.  Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.

Photo 24.
Zubin Mehta in 2007.  Attributed to Omats + Aviad Bublil.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported and GNU Free Documentation License.

Photo 25.
The Three Tenors (Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti) in 1988.  Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.

Photo 26.
San Francisco Earthquake of 1906: Ruins in vicinity of Post and Grant Avenue. Looking northeast.   Attributed to H.D. Chadwick.  Public Domain.

Photo 27.
Looking Down Sacramento St., 1906.  "San Francisco: April 18, 1906." From As I Remember by local photographer Arnold Genthe: This photograph shows "the results of the earth quake, the beginning of the fire and the attitude of the people." It was taken the morning of the first day of the fire. Shows Sacramento St. at Miles Place (now Miller Place) near Powell St.  Public Domain.

Photo 28.
This photo of Tsar Nicholas II and his daughters Olga, Anastasia and Tatiana in captivity at Tobolsk in the winter of 1917-1918 is from the Beinecke Library and can be used with attribution. The correct credit line is Romanov Collection, General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.  Romanov Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Image ID 3750098 Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia.  Public Domain.

Photo 29.
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna and Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia at Livadia Palace.
Photo 30.
Prime Minister of Egypt Nahas Pasha.  Public Domain.

Photo 31.
Photograph taken during the March of Death from Bataan to the prison camp march at Cabanatuan.  This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Photo 32.
Jacket cover of RAVEN The Untold True Story of the Rev Jim Jones and His People

1 comment: