‘Tis the season for… RED PANTIES!

That outta get some attention.

Right inside our front gate and on the corner of the nearest intersection there are people hawking red panties. With tigers on them. They’re piled up right next to all the other Chinese New Year decorations: lucky hanging lamps, lucky window hangings, lucky door hangings, lucky underwear… Mountains of fireworks are piled on the opposite corner (also lucky). They’ve been on sale for about two weeks now because Spring Festival is coming, and if it’s your animal’s year in the Chinese zodiac (your “life origin year” 本命年), you’d best be wearing your lucky red underwear. And lucky red long-johns (also for sale). And lucky red every other article of clothing including your belt. Red helps people avoid evil spirits (避邪), especially the Nian monster (more Nian monster here and here).

Not everyone follows this tradition. Even if everyone did you’d only wear all red once every twelve Spring Festivals (people turning 12, 24, 36, etc. after the start of Spring Festival). Those that do aren’t hard to spot, obviously. And the stores are all conspicuously abundantly stocked with lucky red underwear. There’s lots of variety in the supermarkets, but these designs are for sale on the sidewalk right outside our building next to the vegetable, bean, and fried noodle vendors:

The tiger on the left is on a fú character (福 — good fortune, happiness, auspiciousness), and the tiger on the right says “Year of the tiger good luck!” (虎年好运)。 I told you it was lucky red underwear.

And let’s clear up some confusion about what animal you are. Forget those calendars that say, “If you’re born in [whatever year], then you’re a [hippo, or whatever].” They’re wrong. The animal changes at Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), not January 1st. Spring Festival can fall pretty much any time in January or February, so if you were born after January 1st but before Spring Festival you’re still in the old year with the old year’s animal. Jessica’s a horse and I’m a goat (nice!). L’s a cow (thanks for nothing, China!). Wikipedia has a handy chart so you can accurately find out if you’re a monkey or hippo.

Other stuff about celebrating Chinese New Year’s:

7 thoughts on “‘Tis the season for… RED PANTIES!”

  1. Now THOSE are some serious panties… These guys need to get together with the magic-mormon-undies guys and work something out to usher in good fortune this year!

    1. haha, people always picking on the Mormons. I don’t know if SOLID BRIGHT RED underwear really goes well with the whole modesty emphasis thing the Mormons have going on.

  2. Great article! I have to point out one inaccuracy, though: the Chinese astrological year does not start on the same date as the Chinese New Year. It starts on or around February 4th and is called Li Chun. So what really matters when determining your animal is whether you were born before or after Li Chun. We have a simple calculator at that knows the exact date of Li Chun for every year.

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