In the western world, we're most familiar with the solar year on which our calendar is based. It's determined by the ~365 days it takes Earth to orbit the sun.
The lunar year, however, is only 354 days, representing 12 full cycles of the moon. Today marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year. Each month begins with the new moon, with the new year determined relative to the winter solstice.
As this lunisolar calendar is traditional to many east Asian countries, it follows that the Lunar New Year is also the Chinese New Year. Beginning with the new moon, it kicks off 15 days of celebrations, culminating with the arrival of the full moon and the Festival of Lanterns.
Additionally, each year in the Chinese calendar is marked by 1 of 12 zodiac animals. This repeating 12-year cycle is based in ancient astronomical observations of Jupiter's 12-year orbit around the sun.
2021 is the Year of the Ox, an animal that symbolizes diligence, persistence and honesty. The Ox is the second in the 12-year cycle, preceded by the Rat, and succeeded by the Tiger. Each Chinese zodiac year is also coupled with 1 of 5 rotating elements: water, wood, fire, metal and earth. Are you confused yet??? Just know that 2021 is not only the Year of the Ox, but the Year of the Metal Ox.
What does this have to do with me??? Today is also my 44th birthday. I'm taking the day off to brunch with my husband, get my hair cut and head to the beach for an afternoon of reading and reflecting. Maybe it's the Ox effect, but I'm feeling more purposeful, persistent and confident than ever. All those twists and turns in my life have led me to where I am today. And my heart is bursting with happiness and gratitude.
So, happy birthday to me. And happy Lunar New Year to all of you. May your year be full of diligence, persistence and honesty.