Showing posts from January, 2023

Why Isn’t There a Cat in the Chinese Zodiac?

January 22 is the first day of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. Many of you may be familiar with the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Each animal represents a year in the Chinese calendar’s 12-year cycle. The animals are ranked in this order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. According to folklore, their rank was determined by the order in which they finished a race organized by the Jade Emperor, the ruler of heaven. Did you know the cat could have been in the zodiac? There are many variations of this tale of betrayal. One version has it that the rat and the cat were besties. They decided to run the race together. The cat kept late hours, so he relied on the rat to wake him up in time for the race. The rat promised he would. On the morning of the event, however, he broke his word and sneaked off without his friend. The wily rat was well aware that he didn’t stand a chance against the other animals. Everyone expected the strong and har

Book Review: 'Caged' by Scott Walker

5 stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ What a fun, interesting read! Author Scott Walker has built a fascinating world populated by Japanese mythological creatures who now roam the earth alongside humans due to a cataclysmic rift. The premise is interesting, the writing tight and the action fast-paced. I didn’t feel that any word in this book was wasted. The protagonist is one Keiko Miller, an agent at the Los Angeles Bureau of Souls with kitsune (fox spirit) powers. She and the other characters are believable, and all too human despite their superhuman abilities. Props for setting the book in LA. It gives this police procedural grit and color. The author included a glossary of Japanese words and spirits/gods which I found very helpful. The breadth of “yokai”—Japanese folklore entities—referred to in the book is bewildering. Fortunately, the glossary helped me to keep track.

The Lunar New Year, or the Lunisolar New Year?

Chinese New Year falls on Jan. 22 this year, kicking off the Year of the Rabbit. Have you ever wondered why the festival occurs on different dates every year? That’s because the first day of Chinese New Year is based on when the new moon appears between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. Although Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year, the traditional Chinese calendar is actually based on a hybrid lunar/solar timekeeping system. The lunar calendar follows the moon as it orbits the earth. That only takes 354 days, compared to the 365 days it takes for the earth to orbit the sun (which determines the Western, or Gregorian, calendar). To ensure that the Chinese calendar keeps pace with the solar calendar, the Chinese add one extra month about every three years to the 12-month lunar year. The Chinese lunisolar calendar can be traced back to as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1050 BCE to 771 BCE). The calendar evolved through the centuries ruled by the different dynasties. Today, modern Chin