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: