Today we are celebrating the Chinese New Year 2019, featuring the boar, pig or hog as its zodiac sign.
Its going to be a great year that will bring us good fortune, and the boar is considered a highly intelligent and social animal found all over the world.
The terms boar, pig or hog in English essentially describe the same animal, though there are some distinctions. While a boar is an uncastrated male domestic pig, it also denotes a wild pig of any gender. On the other side, a hog often means a domestic pig.
Japanese basically uses three different Chinese characters to refer to a boar or hog or pig.
1. 亥 pronounciation: i or gai
2. 猪 pronounciation: i or inoshishi or cho
3. 豕 pronounciation: shi or inoko (used less common)
There is also one for swine or pork meat:
4. 豚 pronounciation: ton or buta
But on the postcards that people send each other at the beginning of the new year in Japan, you will only see the characters 1 or 2, and what people really have in mind are wild boars rather than pigs, which are the main image in China.
And speaking of meat: When it was forbidden in Japan to consume meat due to the influence of Buddhism, the term 山鯨 (yamakujira) was coined for forbidden boar meat, literally meaning „mountain whale”. It was supposed to turn „boar meat” somehow into fish that was allowed to be eaten.
Back to the boar, Japan also has its own race of wild boars. The Japanese boar (Sus scrofa leucomystax) is a subspecies of wild boar and is native to all of Japan except Hokkaido and the Ryukyu Islands. It features distinctive white whiskers extending from the corners of the mouth to the cheeks.
The Inoshishi as its called in Japan is considered a fearsome and reckless animal in Japanese culture and people born in the year of the wild boar are said to show determination and impetuosity, even leading to words and expressions in Japanese that include references to boars as symbols of recklessness.
猪突: pronounciation: chototsu, translation: hell-bent, headlong rush; rushing recklessly
猪武者: pronounciation: inoshishimusha, translation: daredevil; foolhardy warrior; hotspur
猪口才: pronounciation: chokozai, translation: impertinent; impudent; saucy; cheeky
At the same time, boars are also symbols of fertility and especially prosperity, which was illustrated by its inclusion on the 10 Yen note during the Meiji period.
And in this sense, I wish you all a prosperous and dashing 2019.Posted on