As I begin to jot down some thoughts about this Chinese New Year, i can't help wonder: does it matter if it is a fire rooster or a golden hen? Is it old world superstition, or just old culture baggage that some of us Asian Americans still carry? And yet, even many non-Asians around the world also enjoy celebrating Chinese New Year. I remember watching an all American Dragon Dance Team in traditional Chinese custumes perform in Taipei, Taiwan to the full blast of drums and gongs; and other Chinese folks observed Christmas and went to church. I know I can never stop celebrating Chinese New Year even if I have lived in a western society for many years. In a way, there is something very nice about living in a multicultural world where we can share and exchange with other cultures to enrich us.
Often I am asked about the Chinese Zodiac animals. And naturally, this year is all about the Rooter. Of course, nowadays, one can look anything up on the internet and get a multitude of information. But my own thought was, if we were to be sensitive and politically correct, we may have to come up with some newly coined Chinese sounding word like "Rooshen". The mother hen should approve of this because we all know that without her, how would that strutting bird carry on his dynasty? Sorry, I hope my sense of humor is not misplaced here.
As to the symbolic significance of the Rooster, according to ancient Chinese folk lore, it was chosen as one of the twelve Zodiac animals to serve in the 12 year cycle; and represent some of our human qualities: alert, diligent, energetic, dependable, etc., as well as vain, stubborn, controling and tunnel vision, etc. Alas, Asian culture and philosophy are usually given in pairs of opposites as a way of balance. It is never definitely right or wrong, good or bad. The Rooster or a Mother Hen with his/her various qualities can be helpful at the right moment and reversed under other circumstances. So, if we keep an open mind to absorb, shift through and retain what resonate with our true nature, then all culture and traditions are applicable and beneficial.
For this Chinese New Year, I can definitely use more of the energy and diligence from this "Roochen" to make my days fuller, to achieve a few goals. I will give myself a pat on the back once in a while, lift up my head to strut a bit, and even try a little crowing. A "Rooshen" should be able to do more, right?
Pearl Weng Liang Huang, Founder of
Ru Yi Studio of Multicultural Arts