This year’s Lunar New Year – or Spring Festival – falls on 1 February 2022 and is celebrated in Asian countries, including China, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Singapore, and their diasporas worldwide.
The Chinese New Year, which follows the day after the same New Moon on 1 February, will usher in the Year of the Tiger, the third animal in the Chinese zodiacal calendar – and specifically the ‘Water Tiger’.
What Does the Water Tiger Symbolise?
In the tradition of assigning traits to each animal in the zodiac (lit. ‘circle of little animals’), and their links to one of five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water), the ‘Water’ Tiger, taking over from the ‘Metal’ Ox of 2021, is said to impart its strong and fearless characteristics to those born under its influence. Characterised as born leaders, they are described as ‘hard workers, responsible, ambitious, and self-assured’.
Famous Tigers through Time
Diverse adjectives are attributed to ‘Tigers’, depending on the source. The definition for ‘leader’ seems similarly fluid. You can see this glancing through a list of famous figures born in a ‘Year of the Tiger’. In China: Kangxi Emperor, Tang Yin, Zhao Mengfu, Sun Yet-sen, Peng Luyan, and Zhang Yimou. And elsewhere; Hồ Chí Minh, in Vietnam; Joseph Stalin, in Russia; and Mahatma Gandhi, in India. In the west: Louis XIV of France, Karl Marx, Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth II, Kofi Annan, Usain Bolt, and Stevie Wonder.
Are you a Tiger? They are born in 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 or 2022. Find out your Chinese Zodiac sign.
Celebrations Around the World
In 2022, the Tiger theme ran throughout Lunar New Year preparations in Vietnam, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea, amongst others.
- In Vietnam, thousands of 24-carat gold plated tigers are hitting souvenir shops in Hanoi, selling for between $300 and $3,000, in hopes for the power and prosperity ascribed to the Year of the Tiger, reports Agence France Presse. Vietnam has been hard hit economically, with growth hitting a 30-year low last year and more than 1.4 million jobs lost.
- Vietnamese Artist Nguyen Tan Phat has carved more than 800 of a projected 2,022 tigers from the wood of the jackfruit tree, some with patterned stripes from crushed eggshells or seashells for the New Year.
- In Singapore, preparations for the Lunar New Year 2022 include an ecological dimension, collaborating between artists-in-residence and the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore to paint tiger sculptures to promote global animal conservation and protection of the environment.
- South Korea welcomes 2022, Year of the Black Tiger‘ (its national symbol). Four young students, all born in the Year of the Tiger, are interviewed at the zoo, where they have gone to see the tigers. They each outline their wishes and end in unison with a countdown to ‘Happy New Year – Best friends forever!’
- The Republic of Korea announces that many districts in Seoul are holding exhibitions of Tiger sculptures. Mount Inwang expects to attract more climbers this year as a tiger sculpture is placed on top of the mountain to give hope and courage.
- In Hong Kong, Cheryl Heng writes a tongue-in-cheek South China Morning Post prediction about the financial markets: ‘The Water Tiger signifies good prospects for industries related to shipping and cross-border trade’. The ‘water’ element may mean journeys and transport are likely in 2022. Surely a tinge of hope, as the global pandemic passes a two-year mark?
- Virtual celebrations for the New Year in London will replace street ones for a second year running. Visit London Follow #CNYLondon on social media for online activities.
The Year of the Tigers in the Wild
Tigers are an endangered species, with only 3,500 tigers remaining in the wild worldwide. Tiger habitat is estimated to have declined 41% between 1997 and 2006, with the most considerable loss in India. Find out more: World Land Trust. Plus calculate your carbon footprint in an era of endangered species here.
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