In the US, this Friday (aka Black Friday) kicks off the holiday season. For John and me, that means Christmas all the way through Chinese New Year.
Most years, I’m excited at the prospect of making spiced pumpkin bread or Chinese-style jiaozi, and decorating our home with Christmas tree lights and duilian. This year, though, the holidays — specifically, Chinese New Year — fill me with some trepidation.
Well, even though this is going to date me, here’s the deal — I’m a snake, and 2013 is the year of the snake. That means, in Chinese zodiac terms, 2013 is my benming nian (běnmìngnián, 本命年), the year of my birth zodiac sign.
Unfortunately, your benming nian is traditionally considered unlucky, something I have firsthand experience with. During my last benming nian, I moved five times in that year, worked three soul-crushing jobs, and suffered two months under a sadistic roommate. My father came down with a life-threatening condition during his benming nian; my mother, sadly, died during hers.
Fortunately, though, the superstition about your benming nian comes with a so-called solution in the form of gifts. Supposedly, with the right gifts from family and friends, I could breeze through 2013 — and quite possibly have one fantastic year.
With that in mind, I decided to dedicate my usual holiday gifts post to those people on the eve of their own Chinese zodiac year. What should you get them this holiday season? Here are a few ideas:
If you only buy one good-luck gift for someone’s Chinese zodiac year, let it be red underwear.
Supposedly, if you wear the color red every single day during your zodiac year, it helps protect you from misfortune. But since most of us don’t own lots of red pants, red shirts or red dresses, this is probably the easiest way to introduce a little red into your life on a daily basis. Besides, there’s something sexy about the color red, and who doesn’t love a little sexy lingerie or boxers/briefs?
Other Red Clothing
If it’s in your budget, who says you have to stop at red underwear?
Red socks can be another easy way to wear this auspicious color — just watch for those fashion don’ts (bright red socks plus black tuxedo = really bad idea).
You could give her or him red shirts, great to wear on their own or layered under other clothing. Also think accessories, such as red shoes (I once owned a pair of red Converse Chuck Taylors) or even red glasses.
Don’t forget red sweaters, such as a gorgeous Metersbonwe sweater with a faux-fur hood and a snowflake pattern. (John, are you reading this?)
If he or she loves a little sparkle or bling, why not make it red too?
Women might go a little fancier with the above — but if she’s got pierced ears, don’t forget the earrings. I’m loving these red good fortune earrings (see photo at top), which combine this important color for your zodiac year with one powerfully lucky Chinese character.
Besides the color red, jade is your new best friend during your zodiac year, as it also supposedly wards off bad luck. I should know — my husband John got through his last benming nian by wearing a jade pendant; that same year, he met and fell in love with me. Coincidence? You can decide. Meanwhile, I’ll be dusting off that jade pendant my friend gifted me years ago, and preparing it for 2013.
While most people wear their jade as a pendant, don’t forget earrings, rings or even bracelets.
So, when you hit the shops this holiday season, think of your friends and family who are about to pass through their own Chinese zodiac year — and don’t forget to drop a little red (or jade) under their Christmas tree this year.
What would you recommend as a gift for someone’s upcoming Chinese zodiac year?