We have entered the mini season of First Spring.
This is the first of the 24 mini seasons of the 72 Season calendar. The 72 seasons, or micro-seasons, are embedded into each mini season. Each micro-season is about five days in length and highlights a slight change in the natural environment. The micro-seasons contained within this mini season are:
- Spring Winds Thaw the Ice (Feb 4.- Feb 8)
- The Nightingale Sings (Feb. 9 – Feb 13)
- Fish Rise From the Ice (Feb 14-Feb 18)
These seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibuka Shunkai. These micro-seasons are specific to the climate of Japan. However, just because the calendar focuses on Japan doesn’t mean that it isn’t applicable to others. They can become a starting point for a personal exploration into the world around you.
The mini season of First Spring coincides with the New Year of the Lunisolar calendar. The Lunisolar calendar blends the lunar cycles and the solar years to create a unique calendar that has been used for hundreds of years. Some accounts even date this calendar back to the 14th century BCE.(1)
This calendar uses a combination of the solstices and the arrival of each new moon as a way to mark the passing of time.(2) The New Year occurs on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This puts the first day of the Lunar New year somewhere between the end of January and early February. (1)
Although China now primarily follows the Greogorian calendar, the lunisolar calendar is still used to mark holidays and festivals. It should also be noted that China is not the only country that still references this calendar. Many East Asian countries including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam have their own celebrations and holidays related to the lunisolar calendar.(3)
2022: The Year of the Tiger
Using the Chinese Zodiac as a guide, each New Year is connected with an animal. This year, 2022, is the Year of the Tiger. If you are born during this year, it is said that you will develop traits such as notable generosity, natural ability to sympathize, and endless commitment to helping others. You will also become a courageous leader and have lots of enthusiasm.(1)
The Chinese Zodiac contains12 different animals and each new year is assigned a new animal. Following a 12 year cycle, people born in the years 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, etc. were all born in a Tiger year. The other animals in the Zodiac include: Rat, Ox, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Next year, 2023, will be the Year of the Rabbit.
Along with the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, each New Year is also influenced by Yin or Yang energy and earth elements. This system is known as the stem-branch system. The “stem” is the energy/earth element and the “branch” is the Zodiac animal. There are a total of 60 different stem-branch combinations which create a 60 year cycle. Therefore, the more exact description for this year is the year of Ren Yin and Tiger, or the year of the Water Tiger.
The arrival of the new year also brings with it predictions for the future. The year of the Water Tiger is predicted to be a year of great prosperity for some and many changes for all. Of course, your specific predictions depend on the relationship between your birth year and the current year. The specifics of these prediction are quite complicated and blend the concepts of Feng Shui with the astrological horoscope.(4)
Interestingly, this year is my birth sign year. However, that doesn’t mean that all predictions are positive. On the contrary, I should expect many challenges this year and should not take any major financial or career risks. If you are interested in your own predictions check out this article by Harper’s Bazaar.
A Poem About Tigers
In order to celebrate the Year of the Tiger, I thought we could look at a poem about a tiger. This poem was written by William Blake in 1794.
“The Tyger” by William Blake
Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies. Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand, dare seize the fire? And what shoulder, & what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand? & what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain, In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp, Dare its deadly terrors clasp! When the stars threw down their spears And water'd heaven with their tears: Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Jonathan Jones commented in the Guardian that “[t]here is no other work of art that so urgently and universally tells the truth about nature and our relationship with it as Blake’s . . . poem”(5) Jones continues that Blake, a true nature lover, honors the fierceness of the tiger along with gentleness of the lamb. Both exist in the natural world and need to be respected. Jones concludes that in this poem Blake reminds us that a life without tigers would not be worth living.
I couldn’t agree more.
- The Almanac: Lunar New Year 2022
- Hong Kong Observatory: The Chinese Agricultural Calendar Explained
- Wikipedia: Lunisolar Calendar
- ChinaHighlights.com: Chinese Zodiac/Tiger
- Jonathan Jones: How William Blake keeps our eye on The Tyger
- William Blake; “The Tyger”: Poetry Foundation
- Harper’s Bazaar: 2022 Chinese Zodiac Predictions
You can find William Blake’s poem in his book Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Looking for something else to read? Naturalist Weekly also has several curated book lists of poetry, haiku, and books featured on our blog. We are an affiliate of Bookshop.org and may receive a small commission if you purchase a book from Bookshop.org.
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