The Year of the Pig starts tonight

The event is celebrated in the Far East and among Chinese communities in the world. In Chinese culture, pigs symbolise wealth. People born under the sign of the pig are deemed diligent, compassionate and generous. In Southeast Asian countries with an Islamic majority, celebrations are more subdued.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Many Asian communities around the world are getting ready to celebrate the start of the Lunar New Year, which tonight will see the start of the Year of the Pig.

According to the traditional Chinese calendar, each year is represented by an animal. The pig is the last in the 12-year cycle zodiac. The first is the mouse, followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and, finally, the pig.

In Chinese culture, pigs symbolise wealth, an idea also present in Western culture (see piggy banks). In China, these appeared during the Qīng 清 (1644-1912) dynasty.

Chubby faces and big pig ears are also associated with good luck. According to astrology, people born under the sign of the pig are diligent, compassionate and generous.

With great capacity to concentrate and determined, once they set a goal, they use all their energy to achieve it. They rarely ask for help when they are in trouble, but are always ready to help others.

They are not spendthrift, but people born under the sign of the pig like do enjoy life. They love entertainment and are generous with friends, whom they usually take care of.

Accommodating and popular, they are not suspicious and often tend to be naive. This makes them easy targets for deception. They use their tendency to be materialistic as a motivation to work hard.

Pigs are clear-headed and rarely get stressed by difficulties. They know how to deal with an overload of work and how to let off steam: a good sleep is the method they most often use to the get their batteries recharged.

Muslims view pig as impure. For them it is haram (forbidden) to eat it. This can cause problems for people celebrating the Lunar New Year in Southeast Asian countries with a Muslim majority.

Malaysia, a multicultural country where the official religion is Islam, is also home to a large ethnic Chinese community.

In recent times, intolerance against activities deemed offensive to Muslims has increased. For this reason, this year many shops and merchants are not showing pigs images, fearing scandalised reactions.

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country, the Lunar New Year is a national holiday due to its large Chinese ethnic community. However, some right-wing groups have condemned its celebration.

One of them is the Muslim Bogor Forum (FMB) in West Java, which wrote an open letter calling for festivities to be cancelled.

According to the FMB, such celebrations are "inappropriate" for Muslims and could "undermine the Islamic faith". In the past, Indonesia’s Chinese community endured brutal persecution, and even today its members are often the victim of prejudice.