Happy New Year, again – Meet the Muddy Pig

Not all of us manage to get things right the first time. Take me for instance, who has been married three times…

Many of us have probably already broken our New Year resolutions and abandoned the carefully designed life improvement plans we made on December 31. If this is the case for you, do not despair. There are second chances in spite of what some people say. These might not present themselves exactly when, where, or how you might expect them, but you can have another kick at the can. Furthermore, you do not have to wait another eleven months to be able to do so.


On February 5th, starts the 15-day Asian Spring festival called Chunjie (春节), better known as the Chinese New Year. The specific date varies each year depending on the lunar calendar, landing anywhere between January 21st and February 20th. This time we enter into the Year of the Pig, the last animal in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle, maybe because pigs like to take their jolly good time.


When it comes to further details about this Pig year, it gets a bit complicated for us who aren’t astrologers. Some sources say it is the year of the Earth Pig, while others claim it is the year of the Brown Pig. The elements of earth and water have something to do with this, which leads others again to say that it is the year of the Muddy Pig. I’ll stick with this last option, which seems the most jovial.

As for the general outlook for the Year of the Muddy Pig, even for us non-pigs, zodiac-ly speaking, there are both sun and clouds on the horizon. Though we might not be as happy as pigs in shit this coming year, the animal symbolizes prosperity in the Chinese culture, a thing we all might welcome more of in our lives. One also hears mention of luck and a focus on hedonistic pleasures, as pigs seem to be lovers of the good life. I would not suggest for anyone to count on any such fortune yet, but the year of the Muddy Pig sounds infinitely brighter than for instance the year of the Water Snake.


I see the introduction to the Year of the Muddy Pig as both auspicious and serendipitous, as it coincides with the US release of my book Casita 26. Living in Andalucía, I have become fond of pigs. Iberian pigs, of course. These animals are very different from your great, fat, pink, run of the mill industrial pig. The Iberian version is usually small, lean and bluish black. Most are free roaming and live a happy, carefree life – until they get converted to Jamón Ibérico, of course…

If the Chinese New Year doesn’t give you enough time to get your ducks in a row, do not give up. Our modern Julian calendar, celebrating New Year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. Long before we began to kick-start the year in the dead of winter, the Mesopotamians celebrated the coming of a new year in mid-March, around the time of the spring equinox. Likewise, the early Roman calendar designated the first of March, or Martius as they called it, as the beginning of their ten-month year. A spring start makes all the sense in the world, as it is the time of rebirth and new beginnings. Though Julius Caesar introduced his more accurate solar-based calendar in year 46 BC, moving the New Year to its present date, this shouldn’t prevent us from embracing new beginnings and turning a new leaf with the Chinese, the Mesopotamians or the ancient Romans.

Ao, have a Happy New Year. May we all be as content as pigs in mud.


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