“No need to give us jujube dates－we have plenty of them.”
This message from my in-laws, delivered by my husband Jun after he returned from a quick trip to his hometown in rural Zhejiang province, exploded my annual Chinese New Year tradition of sending all the family members packaged gift boxes of large Xinjiang jujube dates. After years of believing I had hit upon the perfect gift for the holidays, I was now left scrambling for an alternative.
And the options in my usual online supermarket didn’t look promising. As I ticked off the possibilities with my husband－Beijing-style haw cakes or ginseng or chocolates－he vetoed every one, saying the family could probably buy them or already had them. His mom had even tucked into his backpack a heaping plastic bag of assorted chocolates in flavors ranging from toffee to brandy, a reminder of the increasingly global goods available in the village of his childhood, making my search for something unique even more challenging.
After what felt like the 100th time of fruitlessly scrolling through Chinese New Year goods online, a picture of a gift box of goji berries, a specialty of Ningxia Hui autonomous region, suddenly drew my thoughts back to my 2020 reporting trip to the region for a video shoot. I went to Ningxia to explore how it was leveraging some of its most celebrated agricultural products－including those renowned goji berries－to alleviate poverty, mainly through online sales. And I’d made a number of friends along the way, who welcomed me to contact them anytime.
Surely, they must have some Chinese New Year goods, I thought.
As legend has it, the Jade Emperor (Emperor in Heaven in Chinese folklore) wanted 12 animals to serve as his guards. To determine their ranking, he sent an immortal being to earth to spread the message about a race, where each animal’s rank would be determined by the order in which they passed through the Heavenly Gate.
On the day of the race, Rat woke up early but encountered a river with a swift current. To overcome this obstacle, Rat jumped onto Ox’s back. Ox did not mind and helped Rat cross the river. After crossing the river, Rat jumped off Ox and dashed towards the feet of the Emperor. Rat finished first place in the race, Ox came in second, and the rest of the animals followed— that’s how the Chinese zodiac began.
On 12 February 2021, we will be welcoming the Year of the Ox. Apart from hosting reunion dinners, enjoying pineapple tarts, and receiving red packets, what’s Chinese New Year without reading your Chinese horoscope predictions? While shopping malls and Feng Shui masters focus on how lucky you’ll be in your career, health, and relationships, we’re shedding light on your financial luck for 2021. If you’re unsure of your Chinese zodiac sign, find it in the table below.
The Monkey, Rooster, and Dog zodiac signs are predicted to have the greatest financial luck in 2021, according to Feng Shui Grand Master Tan Khoon Yong.
The Tiger and Rabbit zodiac signs will obtain financial independence by discovering a new income source.
The Dragon zodiac sign will enjoy large profits, as long as they take advantage of the investment opportunities.
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