Zodiac Year of Brith – What and when is Ben Ming Nian(本命年)?
The worship for the zodiac signs is an important part of the concept held by Chinese people towards the zodiac year of birth. The zodiac year of birth is calculated according to the circular order of the twelve zodiac signs. Based on the zodiac sign of the lunar year when one was born, the person’s zodiac year of birth in the future is decided.
According to the circulation of the twelve zodiac signs, every twelve-year one will meet with his or her zodiac year. For instance, a person who is born in the Zi lunar year owns the zodiac sign of rat and after 12 years when it is the Zi year again, it is the person’s zodiac year of birth. According to this circulation, one will meet his or her zodiac years of birth at the ages of 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60 years old. Therefore, the zodiac year of birth is the lunar year that one certain zodiac sign represents every 12 years, also known as the Year of Zodiac Sign.
The zodiac year of birth is generally regarded as the year that will bring disaster and misfortune on the basis of traditional Chinese custom. Therefore, Chinese people describe the zodiac year of birth as the Threshold Year since to pass the zodiac year equals stepping across a threshold.
In order to avoid calamities and pray for auspiciousness, when encountering with the zodiac year of birth, it is conventional to wear a red band for both adults and children. In addition, children should also wear red vests and red pants to turn calamities into blessings.
Based on that, people pay special attention to the 12th birthday of children in China. On that birthday, the child should wear red accessories like red silk band and red necklace and what is more, parents will prepare a banquet and invite relatives and friends to come to celebrate the child’s birthday and the guests will send presents for a blessing.
Furthermore, people also attach importance to the 60th birthday of the elders. The year of the 60th birthday marks the fifth zodiac year of birth as well as a cycle of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, possessing special meanings. On that day, the elder’s children will hold a birthday party to wish him or her health and longevity.
Red Bellyband (Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911)
The bellyband, also called tube top, is the traditional underwear of Chinese women to protect chest and belly. Its shape is normally square or rectangular. In the zodiac year of birth, people usually prepare red bellybands for children.
Colored Woodblock Printing of Chinese Character Shou(Longevity)
Chinese people assert that the 60th birthday of the elders should be called as the grand birthday of 60. It is hoped that old people can keep healthy and energetic in the fifth zodiac year of birth. This colorful character Shou expresses the blessing to the elders.