Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year of the Tiger 2010

Someone asked me how we celebrate the solar New Year in Korea. The Koreans like many others in the Orient, if Catholic celebrate the New Year on three different occasions. The Catholics start the liturgical year on the first Sunday of Advent. Then as a world citizen they celebrate the solar New Year and finally they celebrate the new year that really counts, the lunar New Year. There is no red letter day for Advent, only one red letter day for Jan. 1st but for the lunar New Year they get 3 red letter days. This year it falls on the 14 of Feb. which happens to be a Sunday.

Tomorrow we will celebrate the coming of the solar New Year with a Mass in the morning . Jan. 1st is the feast day of Mary, Mother of God and World Peace Day for the Catholics beginning the new year. The Koreans use the word 'Pok' (Blessing), very often during this time of the year and more so at the lunar New Year.

This is the year of the tiger even it doesn't start until Feb.14th, the lunar New Year. It will be the year of the white tiger or the metal tiger. In the Korean traditional Chinese calendar there is a cycle of 60 years which would be like our century. The name of each year has the name of one of the 12 animals and one of the 10 heavenly stems, in combination they give each year of the cycle a different name.

'Pok' is a word with much meaning and all good. It can be considered blessings of a material kind but also of a spiritual nature. The word that we used for blessing in our Korean New Testament in Ephesians 1:3 is 'pok': "Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens." We are asking as Christians to have others blessed in every way with our greetings at this time of year. The ideogram you have on the top left is the Chinese for blessing; on the left side of the character you have the heavens sending us blessings, one of our big material blessings is to have enough on our tables to eat: the right side is an open mouth and a field from which the food comes.

A Blessed New Year and many blessings during the days to come and always.


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