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New Year's Event: Rise of the Swine Lord, or: How to deform a marchpane candy pig beyond recognition.
"Es klopft ganz leis an deine Tuer ein fettes rosa Ruesseltier. Mach auf der Sau, lass sie herein, so hast im Neuen Jahr viel Schwein!
What knocks softly from without, it's a fat pink animal with a snout. Open the door, let the pig in, and your New Year shall with luck begin!"
(Austrian New Year's Greeting)
Best Wishes... to you!
We wish you well is just one of many ways to project happiness on someone else. It is an old Chinese custom to wish: "May your home be filled with the five happinesses!" One by one, in Mandarin, the Confucian five happinesses are called: "Chang Shou" for longevity (or "Chang Min Bai Sui" - a wish for very happy hundred years in life), "Fu" for wealth (or "Fu Gui" - great wealth, good fortune), "Kang Ning" for health (or "Sheng Ti Jian Kang" - a wish for good health), "Mei De" for virtue or moral integrity, and "Si De An Xiang" for peaceful death (or "Kaozhong Ming" for natural death). Altogether they are "Wu Fu," where "fu" can either mean bat or luck resp. happiness, and the animal is associated with it. While "wu" can mean "five" or also "none" (as part of the same pronounciation for a different Chinese character). "Wufu" in this case stands for "without happiness" or "fatherless." And there is no 6th happiness, except maybe in the old Ingrid Bergman movie of the same title.
Baby Panda Fu Long, born in the Vienna Zoo in 2007. Is the tiny "Happy Dragon" enjoying sleeping there?
Lucky Panda. Receiving a picture from a Thai colleague with a Panda bear the other day, I had to think of the Panda baby star in the Vienna Zoo, which my daughter found so cute. The Panda's name is "Fu Long," which means "Happy (wealthy) Dragon". The names of the bigger Pandas, his parents, are "Long Hui (Badge of Dragon)" and "Yang Yang (Sun)." Actually, "Xiong Mao" is the Chinese word for Panda. Sometime later, the baby Panda was news again, when he slept through his first birthday. The mother Yang Yang ate the cake, so it at least stayed in the family. As part of "Panda Diplomacy" the cuddly black and white bears symbolize friendly ties between China and other nations. With their calm habits of eating bamboo and sleeping most of the time, they are an ideal representation for piece. Based on the agreement of international cooperation and exchange, they usually stay in other countries for 10 years. Panda babies, which were born during that loan period in other countries, also belong to China and usually have to return once they are three years old. Even though the zoo would advertise the text "Yeah, we really enjoy living in Vienna!" below the picture of a Panda, in late 2009 the time would come to say "So long, Fu Long!" Yet another year later another cuddly star was born. An oline vote decided his name as "Fu Hu (Lucky Tiger)". The people's second joice would have been "Wei Xing (Vienna's Joy)".
Mindless Phrases. "Best wishes on the occasion of your (insert any reason here)" or "It will eventually become better." What those sentences have in common is that they are just phrases. Repeating a group of words you have heard somewhere before, maybe a thousand times, is becoming very popular, for you have to think less and can say more by just chewing the cud. Even worse are those, who usually answer questions with pseudo-wise sayings, then even smile afterwards as an expression of self-content about the clever move. Taking things over in a form of parroting instead of making some effort to formulate an individual response.
The pig is a symbol for luck. Even more, if dressed with a chimney sweep's hat and holding a four-leaf clover. Made of delicious almond candy, the marzipan pig is a common gift for exchange and - my boy's preference - deformation. In the meantime, "Pig Art" has become an annual tradition and we like to capture the before and after image of the same "poor pig", which once more finds itself being confused with play dough.
Piggy Greetings. In Austria it is common to wish everyone "Viel Schwein (a lot of pig, i.e. good luck)" for the next year. The saying "Schwein haben (to have pig, i.e. to be lucky)" describes the situation of getting something without doing anything to earn it. It probably goes back to a real pig as consolation prize for the last one at medieval shooting matches. Nowadays, instead of a pig or red lantern for the loser of a race, we might consider passing out a whey drink to the unlucky. Then, in reference to a local brand we would say: "Weil mit Latella geht's schneller - For with Latella milk to eat, you will gain a little speed!"
Pink Playdough. The annual exchange of New Years talismans has become a custom, which would especially include the extensive trade of plastic charms shaped like pigs, four-leaf clovers, chimney sweeps and horse shoes on on January 1. The climax though is the first bite into the marzipan pig, which is very unfortunately sometimes mixed up by kids with playdough and destroyed instead of enjoyed…
Red Paper Couplets. Let me speed up with my unusual summary now and go back to Happy New Year greetings like "Prosit Neujahr" (German) and "GongXiFaCai" (Mandarin). Chinese people wish each other glory, health, long life and wealth. Visiting a friend or relative in the Chinese New Year, some people would write down 'Fu Gui Rong Hua - Wealth and Prosperity' on a red paper and stick it on the wall or on both sides of the main door. In the heart of Europe ("Ou Zhou De Xin") it is a custom to eat lens salad on New Year's day. For the difficult-to-digest vegetable assembles the shape of (much) money.
Freebie Hunters. Unfortunately, instead of just working hard for it and the pleasure of having achieved something on their own, some people almost demand the right of getting things for free, inheriting them from a late remote relative or easily winning them in a casino or elsewhere, as if never ever having heard of simple probability calculation.
Lottery Ticket. People talk about day dreams of winning lotto millions, while apparently disregarding all the problems, the fear and unease coming with wealth. Which reminds me of this story of a guy, who prayed every night before going to bed that he would win the lotto jackpot. After a few days, suddenly he heard this deep voice saying: "Please give me a chance, buy a ticket!"
Yes-Men. It is extremely important to just say "yes" to your life and the challenges that come with it, when you work your way up. "Hiya" is the Chinese expression for "yes." Sounding a little like the scream of a kung-fu fighter (or Kung Fu Panda)... Hiiiya! And it is pronounced similarly to German baby language for bed: "Heia" - as in "Geh in die Heia - Go to bed."
Real Estate. "Ja" on the other hand, which is German for "yes," is at the same time Mandarin for "home," such as in "wo ja - my home." And some homes are quite expensive, as all those may know, who are house hunting. You almost have to be a millionaire to be able to afford one. It just doesn't happen too often that you have the necessary "Masn", a Viennese expression derived from the Yiddish "mazel tov", used to acknowledge that someone just had sheer luck.
In the Germanic region the pig is a sign of good luck. I was not so sure about that most photographed bronze "wild boar" statue in front of Munich's hunting museum thought. However, as the pig is also part of the Chinese zodiac (in Japan specifically the wild boar), it symbolizes good fortune... especially in the year of the pig.
Lucky Bird. Usually, things don't just fall into one's lap without reason. They have to be worked hard for. But what would you wish for, if tossing a coin into a well could make it come true? A hypothetical question, while knowing that you better not rely on sheer luck. For "Das Gueück ist ein Vogerl - luck is a birdie," flying from one person to another, but never staying at the same place for a long time. Let me close before losing myself in expressions of half-wisdom and banal phrases. "Good Luck" for now... and try to avoid unlucky numbers, by the way!
Go to next page about Linguistic Limitations.